Test accessibility is defined as the extent to which a test and its constituent item set eliminates barriers and permits the test-taker to demonstrate his or her knowledge of the tested content. Test accessibility involves an interaction between features of the test and individual test-taker characteristics.
With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, student accountability in essential content areas such as reading, mathematics, and science has become a major area of focus in educational reform. As a result, test developers have needed to create tests to ensure all students, including those with special needs (e.g., students identified with disabilities), are given the opportunity to demonstrate the extent to which they have mastered the content measured on state assessments. Currently, states are permitted to develop two different types of tests in addition to the standard grade-level assessments to target students with special needs. First, the alternate assessment may be used to report proficiency for up to 1% of students in a state. Second, new regulations permit the use of alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards to report proficiency for up to 2% of students in a state.
To ensure these new tests generate results that permit valid inferences about student performance, they must be accessible to as many individuals as possible. The Test Accessibility and Modification Inventory (TAMI) and its companion evaluation tool, the Accessibility Rating Matrix (ARM), were designed to facilitate the evaluation of tests and test items with a focus on enhancing their accessibility. Both instruments integrate principles of accessibility theory and were guided by research on universal design, assessment accessibility, cognitive load theory, and research on item-writing and test development. The TAMI is a non-commercial instrument that has been made available to all state assessment directors and testing companies. Assessment researchers have used the ARM to conduct accessibility reviews of state assessment items for several state departments of education.
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“Unless the people can choose their leaders and rulers, and can revoke their choice at intervals long enough to test their measures by results, the government will be a tyranny exercised in the interests of whatever classes or castes or mobs or cliques have this choice.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)