The Department of Education has recently put out a FAQ form on the paper and pencil TNReady test. I will attach it here for you all to read but pay close to attention the section titled Accommodations, Alternate Assessment, and ACCESS for ELL's.
There is also another document you may be interested in that discusses the testing conditions and accommodations as they apply to paper assessments:
Last week I posted about the TNReady accessibility and accommodations that are being offered this year with the new testing. You can find those right here.
Today I want to dig a little deeper about two parts in the accommodations for children with IEP's or 504's, Text to speech and Word Prediction.
First let me talk about the easier of the two...word prediction. What is word prediction? From the SC Assistive Technology Program: Word prediction programs work with word processors. They predict the word a person wants to enter into the computer. The person types the first letter of a word, and the program offers a list of words beginning with that letter. If the right word appears on the list, it can be chosen and automatically inserted into the sentence. If the right word doesn’t appear, the student continues to type the next letter until it does appear. After the user chooses a word, the computer predicts the next word in the sentence. Again, it offers a list of possible words, even before the first letter is typed. Predictions are based upon the sentence content and spelling, as well as the number of times a word is used. Word prediction may be helpful to students who have trouble with spelling, grammar, or using a keyboard (by reducing the number of keystrokes needed). These programs may also help people who struggle to come up with the exact word they want to use in a sentence.
Knox County uses a program called Solo 6 which has word prediction so if your child is using Solo 6, your child is already familiar with word prediction. Sadly though, a memo dated October 14, 2015 stated that word prediction would not be live for the 2015/2016 school year. Here is the exact statement from the memo...
Due to current technology limitations on the testing platform, MIST, the embedded word-prediction accommodation for assessments will not be live for the 2015-16 school year. Students who require the word-prediction accommodation may use the word-prediction feature on their stand-alone assistive technology devices, and then, an adult may transcribe their responses into the MIST platform.
I am currently looking for clarification on this. This seems mean that a student can use their own assistive technology device to use for word prediction but would that also mean that the assistive technology accommodation would also need to be added to the IEP accommodation as well?
Next let's talk about Text to Speech which seems to be a bit controversial this year. In the same assessment accommodation memo it states the following...
The decision to provide the text-to-speech accommodation for both the TNReady English language arts assessment and the social studies assessment must be made based on a student’s ability to access text. Below are key questions to ask when determining the need for the text-to-speech accommodation.
Make sure when you go into your child's IEP that you aren't just being told that the state says we have to remove read aloud, now called text to speech. These questions must be asked before the IEP team, and that includes you as the parent, decides whether a child should have the text to speech accommodation. Don't just take no for an answer.
This year's end of year standardized testing in TN is called TNReady. Up until this year an IEP team made decisions for accommodations on the TCAP and basically your choices were, read aloud and extended time, and most times, if not all, if your child had an IEP they were given one, if not both, of these accommodations. However, this year is different. This year there are many more accessibility features and I will go through them all for you here.
Accessibility Features for All Students:
These features are all built into the computer testing platform. These are available to all students and can be assessed at any time during the assessment. (Students should be practicing using all these features during the school year.)
Accessibility Features Identified In Advance:
A small number of students will require additional accessibility features to meet their individual needs. These accessibility features will be selected ahead of time based on the individual needs and preferences of the student.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
Accommodations are available only to students with a disability served under an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), 504 plan, or students classified as English Learners, and only when the student requires the accommodations to participate in the assessment meaningfully and appropriately. IEP teams and/or educators make decisions about accommodations. These teams (or educators for 504 and English Learners) provide evidence of the need for accommodations and ensure they are noted on the IEP or 504 plan. Therefore, no accommodations may be put in place for a TNReady assessment that does not have data to support its use.
The document that all this information came from is the TNReady Guidelines for Allowable Test Administration Conditions, Accessibility Features, and Accommodations, which can be found here along with many other documents that everyone should be familiar with before heading into your IEP or 504 plan meeting.