Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA - State Testing)

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by teachersk, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Nov 2, 2010

    OK... here's the annual complaint thread about the oh-so-stupid NCLB state testing mandates. It's SO stupid. It's SUCH a waste of time. WHY am I doing factorial expressions with a kid who doesn't know what a number is????

    Anyway......rant over.... now it's time to problem solve.

    One of the APA Test Links is:

    Compose complete sentences using a computer or word processor.

    How do I get my kid who doesn't know letters, let alone words, to compose a complete sentence using a computer or word processor?

    She can't visually transfer from paper to keyboard to screen (so copying a sentence isn't even an option, even if that were allowed by the state).

    She can't recognize her own name....


    A lot of the other activities I am "creative" with and I make multiple choice options and she puts a bingo marker dot on the response she's chosen. It's totally random, but hey, we got advanced proficient last year with her randomness, so I'll keep going with it. We followed all of the guidelines and she met criteria (and exceeded it!) in all areas.

    For example, if it says "Solve algebraic expressions" as the link, I will put something like this:

    1. 6 + a = 9 a= ? 3 5 6
    2. B + 2 = 4 b= ? 1 2 0

    etc. etc.
    Is my kid learning algebraic expressions??? Heck no. She circles/bingo dots random stuff and we submit the ones she gets 60% or higher on.

    But with the writing???? you can't give choices, there's no true false option, etc....???

    It is stumping me.

    Does anyone have similar state regs (kids MUST do exactly what is asked with NO assistance) with kids with severe disabilities?
    What do I do?

    Even a writing program like Writing With Symbols - you have to know how to WRITE to use that!!!!

    I am totally at a loss.

    But I KNOW that kids from the CP school with limited mobility and cognitive ability PASS this... so there has to be a way around it.

    SCRIBING is a legit accommodation... but she would have to be dictating the sentence to me... and she's non-verbal!!!


    :(
     
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  3. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Nov 3, 2010

    Can she dictate a sentence to you using pecs? or select pecs on a computer program to make a sentence?
     
  4. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Nov 3, 2010

    I'm trying to find out of using pecs to say the sentence an then having the modification of the teacher typing the sentence is allowable.... Seems like it wouldn't be but I don't know how else it would be possible.
     
  5. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Nov 3, 2010

    sk, do you have Intellitools? I know there's something in that program that acts as a word processor that you could, for instance, give 2-3 options of words for each part of the sentence... whichever selection they make would be correct, but it's their choice... and you can make as many options (even just 1) as you'd like.

    So it might be

    (Today at lunch) (I/my friend) (ate) (tacos/spaghetti/jello).

    They'd have to click on the button, and it would type the sentence... they don't have to actually be able to read, just push buttons. You can hook a picture up with it, or not... and it will print the picture, or not.

    So the kids ARE creating the sentence themselves, it's just from a controlled model.

    Edit to add that sk, with your population, you NEED this program. I've created things for my low-low kids as well as for my higher kids. Word processing? got it. Puzzles? got it. Switch-activated? Got it. Making a test on the computer? got it. Practicing or assessing colors, numbers, shapes, actions, nouns? got it.

    You *might* be able to get a trial off their website... Ithink you could last year, but I'm not sure if it's still there. :)
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 3, 2010

    It is allowable under IDEA, I believe.

    If the IEP states it, it is allowed on state assesments the majority of the time
     
  7. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Nov 4, 2010

    This was my first thought. If the student's primary way to communicate is using PECS then I don't see why she can't use it on the test. I really feal for you because I have pulled my hair out a few times with the NYS exams but there are 3 difficulty levels so I would not have to pick that type of task unless I knew the student could write.
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Nov 4, 2010

    The only thing that makes me wonder if it is allowable is:

    The actual OBJECTIVE is to create something using a computer... so me typing it for her after she uses her PECS strip to say the sentence... doesn't seem like we're meeting the objective? That's why it's questionable. They DO say over and over - "utilize the individual student's mode of communication" - so this would be doing that....

    Here are the things I can choose from (lowest level) for my student for this domain:

    -Compose a complete sentence using a word processor or computer. (this is the one I picked because it seems the most appropriate, relatively speaking)
    -Write a first draft using word processing software
    -Write a paragraph using different sentence structures
    -Change passive voice into active voice
    -Organize ideas for an informational composition, including main idea/thesis statement, 3 supporting details, and a conclusion
    -Given a prompt, develop a conflict and resolution
    -Plan a story or script, including characters, setting, conflict, and resolution
    -After reading a story, identify the characters by their traits through actions

    I am thinking I might choose "Change passive voice into active voice" and make it multiple choice.................
     
  9. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2010

    I was thinking about this the other day... did you figure out what to do?

    I still think you need Intellitools. Ijust got access to the program again and it made me happy :)
     
  10. Villi

    Villi New Member

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    Jul 25, 2012

    The only 'oh-so-stupid' is.......?

    The the 'rant' listed below is sounded so many time by those teacher and administrators that wish to dismiss the hidden talents of so many of these so called 'disabled' students.

    Each example expressed below only points out a high level lack of understanding of any type communication patterns that can be used with these students. Yes, to us 'normal' communicating people, it appears that the student is only using a bingo dobber to mark random items. If a teacher took the time, and sometimes it might be a lot, to learn how to communicate with these students, it would be amazed at what these kids can and do understand.

     
  11. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jul 25, 2012

    I'm not going to get in an argument on a public forum. Also, this post is 2 years old. But, I will tell you (and others here will tell you) that I have a passion for teaching students with severe disabilities and I actually have my own private consulting company teaching kids to communicate using augmentative communication. I spend a lot of time (all my time?) working on stuff to better my students' lives and my classroom was selected as a model autism classroom for the state of NJ.

    So, it is clear from your post that you didn't understand the intentions (which was to complain about the state requirements taking away valuable time from my classroom, not to say that my kids can't do anything). It's also clear that you may not have experience with alternative assessments and the massive amount of time involved (50+ unpaid hours of outside of school work). Although you may have read the post wrong, of course I believe my kids have potential to communicate. Do I think spending time bingo marking algebraic expressions is valuable for my students? Not at all. She doesn't look at the page when she uses the bingo marker. It was completely random.

    I'd love your input on how you would have a student (with significant cognitive impairments, autism, and no verbal abilities) do the following tasks:

    -Compose a complete sentence using a word processor or computer.
    -Write a first draft using word processing software
    -Write a paragraph using different sentence structures
    -Change passive voice into active voice
    -Organize ideas for an informational composition, including main idea/thesis statement, 3 supporting details, and a conclusion
    -Given a prompt, develop a conflict and resolution
    -Plan a story or script, including characters, setting, conflict, and resolution
    -After reading a story, identify the characters by their traits through actions

    Anyway, welcome to A-Z with your first post.
     
  12. Portlandguy570

    Portlandguy570 New Member

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    Nov 14, 2012

    Communication and understanding of concepts are two different things. As an educator I do my best help the students I work with meet their full potential. Even with perfect communication it is impossible and waste of valuable time to teach certain concepts let alone testing of the concepts. Many of these kids need to focus on life skills and other basic concepts, not learning quadratic equations and such.
     
  13. Portlandguy570

    Portlandguy570 New Member

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    Nov 14, 2012

    I have known many teachers who struggle with the APA assessment. It only get's harder to do as the kids get older. Unfortunately it is a waste of time for the students with the most severe disablites.
    Most teachers I know are just making things up to show some kind of progress. It just makes it harder on the next teacher when the student can show no understanding of the concepts and they do the same thing. It's lies built on lies, but it's what you have to do to get by.

    If educators didn't have to worry about losing there jobs they could stand up and say... enough, this makes no sense! Reform used to come from the ground up more often. but job security for teachers pretty much non-existent these days. that one benifit of having tenure, but the average citizen doesn't understand this.

    Hopefully Obama will get around to education reform in his 2nd term and do away with this requrement.
     
  14. Portlandguy570

    Portlandguy570 New Member

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    Nov 14, 2012

    This pretty much says it all. I found it on a website I can't link because I am a new forum member.

    NEW JERSEY’S ALTERNATE PROFICIENCY ASSESSMENT

    Executive Summary

    • No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires testing of all students.

    • Severely disabled students cannot take standardized tests. Medically fragile students are not exempted, even if the testing causes extreme emotional difficulty.

    • The alternative test, Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA), designed for severely disabled students, is very complicated and time consuming and does not serve the development of the students—it only meets the arbitrary testing requirement for chronological age, not the student’s level (for ex.: a 16 year old on the 2nd grade level is assessed on 11th grade material.

    • The APA’s are not tied to the student’s Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

    • Enormous amounts of teaching time are devoted to preparing for, and administering, the APA’s. This is very costly and does not provide the severely disabled student an educational benefit.

    • New Jersey’s APA testing requirements, as promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Education, are very complicated, particularly when compared to other states, and still have not been finalized after years of development. Costly new training and tests are required each year.

    • Now, as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly NCLB) is being reauthorized, is the time to reconnect the educational programs of severely disabled students to their IEP’s and eliminate the time-consuming and unproductive federal APA requirement.




    Prepared By: The APA Association Coalition

    ASAH (formerly the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped)
    Joint Council of County Special Services School Districts
    New Jersey Association of School Administrators
    New Jersey Council of Educational Services Commissions
    New Jersey Education Association
    New Jersey Principal’s and Supervisors Association
    New Jersey School Boards Association
     

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