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Rating Performance Assessments of Students With Disabilities, Article Critique Example

Pages: 3

Words: 788

Article Critique

The article I chose to critique is called, “Rating Performance Assessments of Students with Disabilities: A Study of Reliability and Bias,” and examines whether when assessing students with disabilities, the bias of the teachers is a factor in the evaluation. This paper will summarize the article as well as discussing my reactions to it, positive and negative.

The article starts off describing the Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act, passed in order to ensure that students with disabilities are included in classroom activities, as well as evaluations. The passage of this Act made the assumption that it would result in such students being able to flourish in the school environment, as long as they were provided with the necessary accommodations from their teachers that would help them succeed. Another assumption was that teachers would be in a position to accurately evaluate the learning experiences and needs of such students, as well as to provide them with feedback while adjusting their teaching styles to accommodate them.

A discussion of the ways grading may be advantageous to students with disabilities was contrasted with arguments by teachers against doing so: many teachers felt that adjusting the grades for students with disabilities lowered the standards of expectations for these students and ultimately, was not fair to them. However, other studies have determined that students with disabilities benefit from alternative methods of grading such as pass-fail options or the submission of portfolios. The authors introduce the notion that grading students with disabilities is influenced by many factors directly related to the teachers involved, such as their perceptions of disabilities, as well as teachers’ knowledge of and reactions to accommodations. This particular study looked at the ways in which teachers’ attitudes about inclusion affected the ways in which they evaluated their students.

The study used information from many sources, including existing data, a survey conducted in a particular school district, which measured teachers’ perception of disability and bias as well as smaller studies of evaluator bias that were conducted for the purposes of this research. The sampling was made up of all third, seventh and ninth grade students in the district, which included approximately 5% who were identified as having a disability. The students were comprised of different ethnic groups and were from an area that was identified as relatively low income. They were given reading and math tests and received a score, then a segment of the population were given another score by specifically trained raters, and finally, a group made up equally of students with and without disabilities were given an additional performance assessment measure. The researchers felt that these measures provided accurate estimates of student performance.

The study found that there were more interactions between the evaluators and the students with disabilities than occurred between students without disabilities and their raters. Overall, however, the researchers did not find any systematic bias on the part of teachers regarding disability status; the study results indicated, though, that the evaluators felt that the teachers were much less fair when evaluating the work of students with disabilities. The conclusions suggested that the policies regarding inclusion of students with disabilities into the mainstream need to carefully take into account all aspects of the practice, including using classroom and test accommodations, and possibly giving specialized training and directions to teachers to make sure that there is consistency and a lack of bias in evaluating performances of students with disabilities.

I found the subject of this study fascinating, because the futures of students with disabilities can be significantly affected by their grades in school, as well as other measures of their performance and behavior. If teachers in their classrooms are judging them with bias, rather than evaluating them in a uniform and consistent capacity that is in sync with those of other teachers’ standards, their future academic careers as well as professional choices could be greatly affected. The question about whether or not providing accommodations is actually doing students a favor is a legitimate issue that needs to be examined further; the balance between genuinely compensating for real deficits versus condescending or lowering standards for those students needs to be delicately drawn. The article was somewhat difficult to understand when it came to the very specific numerical data, but it was explained clearly in the discussion segment of the paper. The article left me with the point that with all the challenges confronted by students with disabilities in their school setting, another issue that could complicate things further is whether or not their teachers are capable of providing the exact amount of support that they need, no more and no less.

Reference

Martínez, A. M. (2010). Rating Performance Assessments of Students With Disabilities: A Study of Reliability and Bias. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment , 536-550.

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