Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tier Two Supports for Badger/SBAC pt 2

**This is part two of a series of three posts on SBAC/Badger test supports. Please see this post for more information about Universal Supports available to all students.

The second layer of support for students taking the SBAC/Badger assessment is called Designated Supports. These supports are available to any student that needs them, whether or not they have an IEP or 504 plan. These supports are akin to a Tier 2 level of support in relation to RtI. These supports may work well for struggling readers, English-language learners, students with attention problems, vision difficulties, and physical handicaps (such as a broken arm). Need for these supports is determined by teachers and support staff that work with the student. Ideally, these are supports that are offered during instruction and other assessments. Designated Supports must be entered in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) platform prior to administration of the assessment. DPI has posted a tool, called The ISAAP Tool on their website to help determine some of the necessary supports for students. 

Designated supports provide a second layer of support for struggling learners. These are not in lieu of the Universal Supports, rather in addition to the Universal supports available to all students. Embedded designated supports include: adjusting the color contrast of the screen, masking areas of the screen to show less of the passage or answers at one time, translation of glossary words and test directions into other languages, and the ability to turn off any universal tools that may be distracting to the student. Text-to-speech is also available as a designated support. Students with this support may have math stimuli items, and ELA test items read aloud, but cannot have ELA reading passages themselves read aloud.

Non-embedded designated supports include access to a bilingual dictionary, screen overlays that provide color contrast, magnification of the screen, a separate setting to decrease distractions, translated directions read by a bi-lingual adult, and a printed PDF of translated glossary terms. Students can also have access to noise-canceling headphones or be provided soothing white noise via headphones to drown out sounds and noises in the test-taking environment. 

In the previous post of this series, the importance of continuing to teach good study and test-taking skills with students and drawing connections between those skills and completing the Badger exam was highlighted. As with those universal supports, it is equally important to practice the use of designated supports prior to a high-stakes state assessment. It only makes sense that if masking test items on the Badger exam is expected to support test taking and increase performance, it is equally important during instructional tasks and classroom assessments. Some of these designated supports can be practiced with or without technology in the classroom.

For instance, a low tech way to practice masking is to show a student how to use a blank piece of paper or file folder to follow along with reading practice or test questions in the classroom. Students who benefit from a color overlay with text can use colored transparencies over their books and worksheets in the classroom as well. Students should also experiment with and practice using noise-canceling strategies during classroom tasks and assessments before using them on the Badger exam. 

Reading test questions aloud to struggling readers can be a way to practice text-to-speech but an even more powerful way to ensure adequate practice with this skill is to use screen readers available on iPads, Chromebooks and desktop computers. If you have ever tried to listen to text being read by a computer versus a human being, you know it can be difficult to get used to the non-human, slightly robotic voice. Students need practice self-adjusting speaking rates and selecting text to be read. 

It must be stressed that providing these types of tools on a high stakes assessment without offering them during instruction and classroom assessment is not recommended. Use of tools on high stakes state assessments that have never been used before may actually be detrimental to the student’s assessment performance instead of being helpful. In order to demonstrate a need for Designated Tools on the SBAC/Badger, the student should have demonstrated a benefit from these tools in the classroom prior to administration of a high stakes assessment.

Please see Accommodations for Special Needs for a third tier of supports available only to students with an IEP or 504 plan.

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