Categories

Report: The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in School Accountability Systems.

Categories

Reform: Accountability

Authors

Harr-Robins, J., Song, M., Hurlburt, S., Pruce, C., Danielson, L., Garet, M., and Taylor, J. ; U.S. Department of Education

Published

2012

Publisher

National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciecnes

Abstract

Executive Summary
Study Background and Research Questions
Formerly excluded from measures of educational performance, students with disabilities (SWDs)
are now explicitly recognized in federal and state accountability systems. At the national level,
the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laid the
foundation for accountability of SWDs by requiring states to include these students in state and
district assessments and to report their participation and performance. This requirement was
further reinforced by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized in
2001, which established SWDs as an explicit student subgroup for the purpose of determining
whether schools make adequate yearly progress (AYP).1 The Institute of Education Sciences
(IES) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has a congressional mandate to conduct a
national assessment of how well the IDEA is achieving its purposes (IDEA 2004, P.L. 108-446,
Section 664(b)). As part of the national assessment of IDEA, this study is intended to provide
policy-relevant information about the education of SWDs by examining their inclusion in school
accountability systems, the use of school practices that may relate to their educational outcomes,
and SWD’s achievement in relation to school accountability status.
The hypothesis underlying the study is that school-level accountability for the SWD subgroup
will lead schools to adopt improved school and instructional practices, which in turn will
improve the educational outcomes for this student population. The purpose of this interim study
report is to present descriptive information on school-level accountability, AYP performance,
and school improvement status of schools accountable for SWD subgroup performance under
Title I of the ESEA, as well as schools not accountable for SWD subgroup performance. The
final study report will explore the relationships between accountability for this student subgroup
and school practices and student outcomes.
This interim study report presents an overview of the relevant policy context and presents
findings for the following research questions:
• What percentage of schools were accountable for the performance of the SWD subgroup
between the 2005–06 and 2008–09 school years?
• What percentage of different types of schools were accountable for the performance of the
SWD subgroup?
• What percentage of schools moved in and out of accountability for the performance of the
SWD subgroup?
• What percentage of schools missed AYP because of the performance of the SWD subgroup?
• What percentage of schools accountable for SWD subgroup performance were identified for
school improvement?
The study is based on data from EDFacts, a U.S. Department of Education (ED) initiative to
collect and place K–12 performance data at the center of policy, management, and budget decisions. The analyses that appear in this interim report are limited to the 2005–06 to 2008–09
school years because 2005–06 is the first year in which EDFacts collected information on the
number of tested SWDs and 2008–09 was the latest year for which EDFacts data were available
at the time the analyses were conducted. The final study report will extend the interim report
analyses with an additional year (2009–10) of EDFacts data and also will examine school
practices that may relate to the achievement outcomes of SWDs, drawing on data from a school
survey administered in 2011. In addition, the final report will explore the relationships between
school SWD-accountability status and school practices and SWD proficiency.
Analytic Sample
The research questions in this report were addressed through descriptive analyses of extant
school- and state-level data, primarily EDFacts data from the 2005–06 to 2008–09 school years.
Analyses examined snapshot data from the 2008–09 school year as well as trend data from the
2005–06 to 2008–09 school years. The states and schools included in these analyses vary
depending on the research question addressed and the data available to answer the question. The
analytic sample size for the 2008–09 school year varied from 37 to 40 states and from 58,393 to
61,401 schools when examining all public schools, depending on the data available for the
particular analysis.2 For analyses of four-year trends from 2005–06 to 2008–09, the sample size
ranged from 16 to 32 states and from 5,460 to 45,972 schools for the analysis of all public
schools. Please note that the study findings generalize only to the states and schools included in
each analysis, rather than the entire nation.
Key Terms
Under ESEA as reauthorized in 2001, schools are required to explicitly include the performance
of the SWD subgroup in determining AYP if the number of SWDs in the tested grades meets or
exceeds a minimum subgroup size, which varies by state from 5 to 100 students.3 This report
refers to these schools as SWD-accountable schools. Schools that are not explicitly accountable
for SWD subgroup performance are referred to in this report as non-SWD-accountable schools.
Some of the trend analyses are limited to schools that were accountable for SWD subgroup
performance in all the 4 years analyzed (2005–06 to 2008–09 school years); these schools are
referred to as consistently SWD-accountable schools.

Eligible schools for the analyses in this report exclude PK–2 schools because these schools do
not include any of the tested grades required by the ESEA (i.e., grades 3–8 and testing at least
once between grades 10 and 12). Also excluded from the analyses are non-Title I schools in the
12 states that do not subject non-Title I schools to the same accountability sanctions as Title I
schools.4 Summary of Findings
Key findings for each of the research questions addressed in this report are summarized as
follows.
What percentage of schools were accountable for the performance of the SWD subgroup
between the 2005–06 and 2008–09 school years? There was variation across states, school
levels, and years in the percentages of schools accountable for this student subgroup.

• Across the 40 states with relevant data for the 2008–09 school year, more than a third
(35 percent) of public schools were accountable for the performance of the SWD subgroup,
representing 58 percent of tested SWDs in those states. In those same 40 states, 62 percent of
middle schools were accountable for SWD performance, while 31 percent of elementary
schools and 23 percent of high schools were accountable.
• In the 20 states that had relevant data for all 4 years, there was a steady increase in the
percentage of SWD-accountable schools, from 25 percent in the 2005–06 school year to
more than a third (34 percent) in the 2008–09 school year.
What percentage of different types of schools were accountable for the performance of the
SWD subgroup? To address this question, the study team examined the following types of
public schools: traditional regular schools, regular charters, traditional special education schools,
special education charters, and vocational/alternative schools.5 The analysis was conducted in
the 40 states with relevant data for the 2008–09 school year.
• In the 40 states with relevant data, 12 percent of regular charters were accountable for SWD
subgroup performance in the 2008–09 school year, compared with over one-third
(37 percent) of traditional regular schools, 40 percent of traditional special education schools,
and 40 percent of special education charters.
• In the 40 states with relevant data, the percentage of tested SWDs represented in SWD-
accountable schools in the 2008–09 school year ranged from 33 percent for
vocational/alternative schools to 82 percent for special education charters.
What percentage of schools moved in and out of accountability for the performance of the
SWD subgroup? To address this question, the study team examined whether schools were
accountable for the performance of the SWD subgroup in each of the 4 school years: 2005–06
through 2008–09. The analysis was based on 32 states with relevant data in each of the 4 years.

• In the 32 states with relevant data, the majority (55 percent) of the public schools were not
accountable for the SWD subgroup in any of the 4 years examined, in comparison with 18
percent of the schools that were consistently accountable in each of the 4 years.

• There was year-to-year fluctuation in schools’ accountability for the SWD subgroup among
the remaining schools, which were accountable for the SWD subgroup in some years but not
all 4 years. Among the schools accountable for the SWD subgroup in the 2005–06 school year in the 32 states with relevant data, 80 percent, 78 percent, and 76 percent also were
accountable in the following 3 school years, respectively.

What percentage of schools missed AYP because of the performance of the SWD subgroup?
To answer this question, the study team examined the reasons for which schools missed AYP. To
make AYP, schools must meet the annual measurable objectives for performance and
participation for the whole school as well any applicable subgroup in both reading and
mathematics, as well as another academic indicator.
• Nine percent of all public schools in 37 states missed AYP in the 2008–09 school year
because of SWD subgroup performance and other reason(s), and 5 percent missed it solely
because of SWD subgroup performance. Together these schools represented more than a
quarter (28 percent) of tested SWDs in all public schools in these states.
• Among schools accountable for SWD subgroup performance in these 37 states, 26 percent
missed AYP because of SWD performance and other reason(s), and 14 percent missed AYP
solely because of SWD performance in the 2008–09 school year. Combined, these schools
enrolled 47 percent of tested SWDs attending SWD-accountable schools in these states.
• In the 16 states that had relevant data over the 4 years analyzed, 40 percent of SWD-
accountable schools missed AYP either partially or solely due to SWD performance in the
2005–06 school year and 35 percent did so in 2008–09.
What percentage of schools accountable for SWD subgroup performance were identified for
school improvement? To address this question, the study team focused on schools that were
accountable for the performance of SWDs in all 4 years (2005–06 to 2008–09 school years).

• Among schools that were consistently accountable for the performance of the SWD
subgroup across 27 states during the 4 years, the majority (56 percent) were never
identified for school improvement over this time period. By comparison, among schools
that were consistently not accountable for SWD subgroup performance in these states,
three-quarters (76 percent) were never identified for improvement.

• Identification for school improvement was mostly stable over time. Of the consistently
SWD-accountable schools in 27 states, 80 percent of the schools identified for
improvement as well as schools not identified for improvement in the 2006–07 school
year retained the same identification status through 2009–10.

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