For what seems like the 800th time this year we are discussing how to handle assessments for our sped students. My school got a new core reading curriculum this year and it comes with weekly reading tests. The tests are several long stories with multiple choice and essay questions. We aren't allowed to include any modifications on IEPs for students who are learning disabled (they have to have a cognitive disability to get them). We got the curriculum through a grant, and it must be followed "with fidelity" for us to continue getting the money, so the teachers have to give all the assessments. The state's stance is that students with learning disabilities can and should be performing at grade level, and providing modifications is having "low expectations" and we can't "hold them to a different standard" if their cognitive functioning is fine. We're supposed to be "closing the gap" and they say providing modifications is not doing that. The only accommodation we can give for the state reading test is extended time, and we're supposed to follow what's allowable for state tests when considering what to do for all other tests. I know in some places you can read the questions and answer choices; that's not an allowable accommodation here. Anyway, of course the problem we run into is that over here in the real world our kids really need modifications. I work in a very low SES school where at least half of the gen ed students are below grade level. The kids that actually end up referred for sped are very, very low. My students tend to test in the 1st-3rd percentile on the Woodcock Johnson, and I think the tasks on there are significantly easier than what we're asking kids to do in classrooms these days (and they are given TONS of varied and intensive interventions prior to being referred to testing). Pretty much all of my students have severe dyslexia. Never in my four years at this school have I had a student that could decode but had other fluency or comprehension issues. It takes thousands upon thousands of exposures for them to learn even the most basic decoding skills, and if I don't constantly review they forget previously learned skills and/or overgeneralize newly learned phonics rules. Yesterday in a meeting someone asked again what to do about these weekly tests for students that simply can't read them. I currently have 15 2nd and 3rd graders (K and 1st tests are a little different). 2 are complete non-readers, 7 have decoding skills that are so basic that there is absolutely no way they can read a grade level test (K level sight words and inconsistent ability to sound out CVC words), 3 can read but nowhere close to grade level and would be missing so many words that I think the test would still be reflective of decoding skills rather than comprehension, and 3 can read well enough to at least access the test material. Of the 3 that can read it, 2 are being exited very soon. Basically, the options brought up have been: 1. Give them the test as is because we "have to." Praise effort and if it's a student that is going to burn themselves up really attempting to do an impossible task (I once had a teacher tell me that one of my lowest students legitimately attempted to read the same page for 25 minutes and ended up crying), set a timer for a short amount of time and tell them they are working on trying their best for x amount of minutes. The argument against this is that it seems silly to put a test in front of kid who can't read even if it is only for 5 minutes, and what kind of message does the whole timer thing send? 2. Give them the test as is and try to focus on improving their score, even if it's from 0% to 5%, etc. I think the issue with this is that because some of the questions are multiple choice and the test is long, they're earning some points just by probability of guessing right. Their scores tend to fluctuate by a few points not because they're doing better or worse with the content, but because they just happen to be guessing better sometimes. 3. Mark a 0 for the report card and read the test aloud to them to see if they're at least picking up the language/vocabulary/content skills. Obviously the problem with this is that then you'd be assessing listening comprehension, which is a completely different skill. Also the student would likely earn at least some points just by guessing vs. getting a 0. 4. Mark a 0 for the report card and have the student do some sort of alternate assessment that will actually give information helpful to drive instruction (a lower grade level test, a more basic comprehension test, or just looking at their DIBELS scores). The argument against this is that we have to somehow be measuring how they're progressing on grade level content since we're responsible for providing tier 1 to everyone. What are your thoughts? Any other ideas? My sped team meets with admin on Mondays and I would love to actually go in with some real ideas. And please don't say that we need to give them more services or some other thing that isn't a real world suggestion. Regardless of what IEPs are "supposed" to do, the school isn't going to get more funding, programs, or more staff. We're giving them everything we can with the limited resources we have; this is the reality that we live in. I'm really looking for practical suggestions for what we can do for reading assessments.