© 2011

Handbook of Accessible Achievement Tests for All Students

Bridging the Gaps Between Research, Practice, and Policy

  • Stephen N. Elliott
  • Ryan J. Kettler
  • Peter A. Beddow
  • Alexander Kurz

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Stephen N. Elliott, Peter A. Beddow, Alexander Kurz, Ryan J. Kettler
    Pages 1-16
  3. Government Policies and Legal Considerations

  4. Classroom Connections

  5. Test Design and Innovative Practices

About this book


The Handbook of Accessible Achievement Tests for All Students: Bridging the Gaps Between Research, Practice, and Policy presents a wealth of evidence-based solutions designed to move the assessment field beyond “universal” standards and policies toward practices that enhance learning and testing outcomes. Drawing on an extensive research and theoretical base as well as emerging areas of interest, the volume focuses on major policy concerns, instructional considerations, and test design issues, including:

  • The IEP team’s role in sound assessment.
  • The relationships among opportunity to learn, assessment, and learning outcomes.
  • Innovations in computerized testing and the “6D” framework for standard setting.
  • Legal issues in the assessment of special populations.
  • Guidelines for linguistically accessible assessments.
  • Evidence-based methods for making item modifications that increase the validity of inferences from test scores.
  • Strategies for writing clearer test items.
  • Methods for including student input in assessment design.
  • Suggestions for better measurement and tests that are more inclusive.

This Handbook is an essential reference for researchers, practitioners, and graduate students in education and allied disciplines, including child and school psychology, social work, special education, learning and measurement, and education policy.


Accessibility Achievement tests Assessment Classroom learning Cognitive load theories Educational accountability IDEA IEP Inclusive assessment systems Individual education plan Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Instructional accommodations Item modification Item writing research Modified alternate assessment NCLB No Child Left Behind Test design Test preparation Test validity Testing accommodations Universal design

Editors and affiliations

  • Stephen N. Elliott
    • 1
  • Ryan J. Kettler
    • 2
  • Peter A. Beddow
    • 3
  • Alexander Kurz
    • 4
  1. 1.Learning Sciences InstituteArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2., Department of Special EducationVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3., Department of Special EducationVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4., Department of Special EducationVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

About the editors

Stephen N. Elliott, PhD is the founding Director of the Learning Sciences Institute, a trans-university research enterprise at Arizona State University, and is the Mickelson Foundation Professor of Education. He received his doctorate at Arizona State University in 1980 and has been on the faculty at several major research universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University. At Wisconsin (1987-2004), Steve was a professor of educational psychology and served as the Associate Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. At Vanderbilt (2004-2010), he was the Dunn Family Professor of Educational and Psychological Assessment in the Special Education Department and directed the Learning Sciences Institute and Dunn Family Scholars Program. His research focuses on scale development and educational assessment practices. In particular, he has published articles on (a) the assessment of children's social skills and academic competence, (b) the use of testing accommodations and alternate assessment methods for evaluating the academic performance of students with disabilities for educational accountability, and (c) students’ opportunities to learn the intended curriculum. Steve's scholarly and professional contributions have been recognized by his colleagues in education and psychology research as evidenced by being selected as an American Psychological Association Senior Scientist in 2009. Steve consults with state assessment leaders on the assessment and instruction of PreK-12 students, and serves on ETS’s Visiting Research Panel, and is the Director of Research and Scientific Practice for the Society of the Study of School Psychology.

Ryan J. Kettler, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor in Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He received his doctorate in Educational Psychology, with a specialization in School Psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. Ryan’s dissertation, Identifying students who need help early: Validation of the Brief Academic Competence Evaluation Screening System, won the 2006 Outstanding Dissertation award from the Wisconsin School Psychologists Association. In 2007, he was named an Early Career Scholar by the Society for the Study of School Psychology. Prior to joining Vanderbilt University, Ryan was an assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles, and completed an APA-accredited internship at Ethan Allen School in Wales, Wisconsin. He has worked on multiple federally funded grants examining the effectiveness of alternate assessments, academic and behavioral screening systems, and testing accommodations. Ryan is the author of peer reviewed publications and presentations within the broader area of data-based assessment for intervention, representing specific interests in academic and behavioral screening, inclusive assessment, reliability and validity issues, and rating scale technology. He currently serves as a consultant to College Board and to the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, providing expertise in the area of inclusive assessment.

Peter A. Beddow, PhD received his doctorate in Special Education and Educational Psychology at Vanderbilt University in 2011. His research focuses on test accessibility and item-writing for assessments of student achievement. He is the senior author of the Test Accessibility and Modification Inventory (TAMI) and the Accessibility Rating Matrix, a set of tools for evaluating the accessibility of test items for learners with a broad range of abilities and needs. Based on his work on accessibility theory, Peter was awarded the Bonsal Education Research Entrepreneurship Award in 2009 and the Melvyn R. Semmel Dissertation Research Award in 2010. Prior to beginning his academic career, Peter taught for seven years in Los Angeles County, including five years teaching Special Education for students with emotional and behavior problems at Five Acres School, part of a residential treatment facility for children who are wards-of-the-court for reasons of abuse and neglect. Peter’s primary goal is to help children realize their infinite value and achieve their ultimate potential. Pete lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alexander Kurz, MEd is a doctoral student in Special Education and the Interdisciplinary Program in Educational Psychology at Vanderbilt University. He has studied in Germany and the U.S. earning degrees in Special Education and Philosophy. Upon moving to the U.S., he worked as a special education teacher in Tennessee and California, designed and implemented curricula for reading intervention classes, and participated in school reform activities through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Alex worked as behavior analyst for children with autism and as an educational consultant to Discovery Education Assessment. During his graduate work at Vanderbilt, he collaborated with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and Discovery Education Assessment leading research efforts to examine curricular alignment and its relation to student achievement for students with and without disabilities. Alex has coauthored several peer-reviewed publications on alignment and alternate assessment. His latest scholarly contributions have reexamined the concepts of opportunity-to-learn (OTL), alignment, and access to the general curriculum in the context of curricular frameworks for general and special education. Alex is the senior author of My Instructional Learning Opportunities Guidance System, a teacher-oriented OTL measurement tool. His current interest in educational technology and innovation is aimed at identifying and creating pragmatic solutions to the problems of practice.

Bibliographic information


“Dr. Stephen Elliott knows how to make tests accessible as few professionals in the United States. We should all be looking to him as one of the people who will help us determine answers to “tricky problems.” His orientation is both psychometric and practical, but totally oriented to inclusion.  I know that I will be reading this book!”
Kurt F. Geisinger, Ph.D.
Meierhenry Distinguished University Professor
Director, Buros Center for Testing
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Editor, Applied Measurement in Education

The Handbook of Accessible Achievement Tests for All Students considers access not only from the perspective of accommodations and test construction, but also from opportunity to learn the grade-level content. The authors provide an important synthesis of research and policy and offer ideas for future directions in making assessment inclusive of students with disabilities.”
Diane M. Browder, Ph.D.
Lake and Edward P. Snyder Professor of Special Education
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

"Access to high quality education is the great equalizer in American society. This new book provides a roadmap for ensuring that students with disabilities are afforded such an education by showing us how to develop fair and valid assessments for measuring these youngsters' academic progress. For anyone interested in teaching, testing, and advancing equitable educational accountability this is a must-have book."
Steve Graham, Ed.D.
Currey Ingram Professor
Vanderbilt University