Assessment Glossary
Acceleration A curriculum where the students move through the curriculum at a more rapid pace than their chronological age peers.
Accommodations Supports or services provided to help a student access the general curriculum and validly demonstrate learning.
Accommodation Adaptation Adjustments or modifications made by classroom teacher(s) and other school staff to enable students with disabilities to benefit from their educational program.
Accountability The process of attempting to use a data-based summary of student learning to hold people and institutions responsible for students learning or failure to learn.  Including identification for system-wide strengths and weaknesses and specific plans for using the information to improve learning.
Adaptations Any procedure intended to meet an educational situation with respect to individual differences in ability or purpose.
Advanced Superior performance, in depth understanding, application of skills and knowledge to develop new understanding.
Age Score Also called age equivalent; a score that translates test performance into an estimated age; reported in years and months.
Alternative Assessment A philosophical belief that assessment can be achieved through the learning process without additional tasks or activation.
Analytical Scoring Rating performance on several different dimensions.
Anecdotal Records Written notes kept by teachers on a daily basis about student performance and needed modifications of instructional programs.
Annual Goal A statement that describes what a child with a disability can reasonably be expected to accomplish within a twelve-month period in the child's special education program. There should be a direct relationship between the annual goals and the present levels of educational performance.
Annual Improvement Goals Goals which describe the district's desired rate of improvement for students.
Assessment The process of gathering information.  A range of processes used to determine or estimate what students know and can do and how much they have learned. It can include tests, student learning demonstrations, teacher observations, professional judgment, graduation rates, and surveys.  It may or may not be used for evaluation purposes.
Assessment Accommodation A change in the assessment procedure that does not alter the construct being measured, but allows for the participation of students in district wide assessments.  These must be driven, by and consistent with, the IEP.
Assessment Modification (Alternate Assessment) Changes in assessment procedures that alter the construct being measured.  NIEP describes why the alternate assessment is necessary and how the student will be assessed in lieu of district wide assessment.
Assessment Quality Attempts to evaluate an assessment by identifying attributes of assessments and defining levels for those attributes with top levels labeled as quality.
Assistive Technology Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.
Assistive Technology Services Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.
At-Risk Students Students who are likely to develop learning or behavior problems.
Authentic Assessment Philosophical understanding of assessment that engages students in applying knowledge and skills in the ways they are used outside of the school setting.  The student not only completes or demonstrates the desired behavior/skill/process but does so within a real-life context.  This term is not synonymous with alternative assessment.  And alternative assessment may or may not be authentic.
Baseline Performance To measure baseline performance, a point in time is selected from which one can monitor changes or improvement in student performance.
“Beginning” Limited mastery of essential knowledge and skills,
Behavioral Intervention Plan Written, specific, purposeful, and organized plan which describes positive behavioral interventions and other strategies that will be implemented to address goals for a student's social, emotional, and behavioral development. For students whose behavior prompts disciplinary action by the school, the behavioral intervention plan addresses the behavior(s) of concern that led to conducting a functional behavioral assessment.
Benchmarks (Major Milestones) Are major milestones which specify skill or performance levels a student needs to accomplish toward reaching his or her annual goal.
Bilingual A student who fluently speaks more than one language.
Challenge Index Index used to quantify a rank from district to district with regards to number of students with disabilities, student mobility (% new to district), low socioeconomic status, and ESL, or LEP.
Checklist An informal assessment device with a list of descriptions that are checked if they apply to the student in question.
Classroom Quiz An informal, teacher made assessment tool, to assess students’ learning.
Cloze Procedure A technique for assessing reading skills in which words are omitted from a text and the student is asked to fill in the missing word.
Competencies A competency is a learned student performance statement which can be accurately repeated and measured. Competencies function as the basis for building the instructional program.
Consensus The mutual feeling that all concerns have been addressed and that everyone has been heard and understood.
Constructed-Response Item An assessment item with a direction, a question, or a problem that elicits a written or graphic response from a student.
Content Standards Describe the goals for individual student achievement. They specify what students should know and be able to do in identified disciplines or subject areas. (See 3.3.2)
Continuum of Services For preschool children, ages three through five, means the availability of different types of settings where specialized services may be delivered; for school-age children means the availability of different types of education environments.  Course of Study: A general statement that identifies the career path that is based on the student's vision and his or her needs, interests, and preferences.
Cooperative Learning An instructional and learning process that uses teams of children to facilitate their learning of content and social skills through a variety of activities.
Criteria Guidelines, rules, or principles by which student responses, products, or performances are judged.
Criterion Referenced Test An assessment device that assesses skill mastery; compares the student’s performance to curricular standards or instructional objectives.
Critical Skills Are knowledge or performance skills that are essential to the progress of a student.
Decoding The process by which readers analyze a word in order to pronounce it; includes sight recognition, phonic analysis, structural analysis, and contextual analysis.
Diagnostic Probe An informal technique in which task or instructional condition is used to observe if a change in the student’s performance results.
Diagnostic Teaching An informal assessment strategy in which two or more instructional strategies and/or methods are compared to determine which is most effective.
Direct Instruction Teacher-guided instruction focused on mastery of specific skills and concepts.
Disaggregation of Data Reporting the performance of subgroups of a population.
Discrepancy Conclusion A comparison of the student with disabilities with peers at two points in time -- at the beginning of the IEP period, and at the point of the annual review.
Distracters Alternatives that are not the correct or best answer for a given item.
District Standards District goals for student achievement and performance that can be measured by measuring the improvement of students' skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, mathematics, reasoning, studying, and technological literacy.
District-wide Assessment A large-scale academic achievement assessment.
Ecological Approach An approach to assessment that focuses on the student’s interaction with the environment.
English as a Second Language (ESL) A common title used for programs aimed at teaching English language proficiency to non English speaking or marginal English speaking students.
Error Analysis A type of work sample in which the incorrect responses of the student are described, categorized, and quantified.
Evaluation The process of determining the quality, or value of some response, product, or performance based upon established criteria.
Exemplar An illustrative example of the ideal response/performance representing a particular level of student work.
Extended Response Essay An essay question that provides students with a  great deal of flexibility in responding.
Extended School Year Services Special education and related services that are provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year of the public agency; in accordance with the child's IEP; at no cost to the parents of the child; and meet the standards of the SEA.
Formal Assessment Assessment procedures that contain specific rules for administration, scoring, and interpretation; generally norm-referenced and/or standardized.
Formative Evaluation Assessment during learning to determine student understanding and progress.
Functional Behavioral Assessment Assessment that enhances an understanding of the purpose and function of a student's behaviors and subsequently provides information that leads to interventions and needed supports.
General Curriculum A description of the standards and benchmarks adopted by an LEA or schools within an LEA that applies to ALL children. It is applicable to children with disabilities as well as nondisabled children and related to the content of the curriculum and not to the setting in which it is used. It is the basis of planning instruction for all students.
General Education Intervention Are attempts to resolve presenting problems or behaviors of concern in the general education environment prior to conducting a full and individual evaluation.
Grade Score Also called grade equivalent; a score that translates test performance into an estimated grade level; expressed in grades and tenths of grades. (5.2 is equivalent to 5th grade, 2nd month)
Graphic Organizers Visual form that helps students organize their understanding of information and the relationships between various parts of the information.
Holistic Scoring Scoring performance as a whole; based on criteria but not giving scores or feedback on specific attributes of the student’s work; giving a single score.
Independence Conclusion Is a judgment about the outcome from the educational efforts related to the IEP goal. It is based on information about the individual's performance improvement.
Individualized Education Program A written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised.
Informal Assessment Assessment procedures without rigid administration, scoring, and interpretation rules; includes criterion-referenced tests, task analysis, inventories, and so forth.
Instructional Services Are the specially designed instruction and accommodations provided by special education instructional personnel to eligible individuals.
Inter-rater Reliability The reliability of scoring across raters.  The most common measure of inter-rater reliability is the percent of exact agreement between two scorers independently scoring the same set of papers.
Interview An informal assessment procedure in which the tester questions a student.
Inventory An informal assessment device that samples the student’s ability to perform selected skills within a curricular sequence.
Language Sampling A procedure for recording language during play, while telling stories, or in conversational sequence.
Learning Strategies Methods used by individuals in their interactions with learning tasks.
Least Restrictive Environment Means that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled.
Limited English Proficiency Is when an individual's primary language is something other than English.
Milieu Approaches Methods for increasing communication skills, such as contingent imitation, responsivity, following the child’s lead, linguistic mapping, and social routines; providing language models; and embedding teaching within routines.
Modifications Are changes made to the content and performance expectations for students.
Monitoring Strategy Is a guide to how data will be collected to make decisions about the progress of a student and it establishes the decision-making plan for examining data collected.
(NAEP) National Assessment of Educational Progress Begun in 1968 to track academic progress over time.  Administered in January and February during even years to grade 4 and 8.  Schools are selected through a stratified random sampling.  Scores are reported at state and national levels only, not individual schools or districts.
Non-discriminating Assessment Assessment that does not penalize students for their sex, native language, race, culture, or disability.
Norm-referenced Tests Standardized tests that compare a student’s performance to that of other test-takers who are part of a sampling group.  Must be administered under standardized conditions.  Norms are obtained by administering the test (under the same conditions) to a given sample (drawn from the population of interest, called the norm group) and then calculating means (or medians), standard deviations, percentile ranks, and other standard scores.
Observation An informal assessment technique that involves observing and recording the quality and quantity of student behaviors.
Open-ended A question or task that has many correct, appropriate, or excellent responses.  There is no single, specific correct answer.
Outcome A statement specifying desired knowledge, skills, processes, and attitudes to be developed as a result of educational experiences.
Percentile Rank A score that translates student test performance into the percentage of the norm group that performed as well as or poorer than the student on the same test.
Performance Assessment Assessment is based on observation and judgment intended to provide a rich portrait of student learning.  Assessment tasks require students to construct a response, create a product, or perform a demonstration.
Performance Descriptors or Indicator A comprehensive description of the “observable” behaviors that indicate the presence of specific knowledge and/or skills.
Performance Levels A structure for reporting student progress and clarifying expectations by demonstrating trends or progress.  Suggested levels for Nebraska are Beginning, Progressing, Proficient, and Advanced.
Performance Standards Standards that specify how good is good enough and describe at least three levels of student performance. The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that at least three levels of performance be established to assist in determining which students have or have not achieved a satisfactory or proficient level of performance for reading and mathematics. Districts may decide to provide more than three performance levels.
Performance Task Activities that include opportunities for students to learn and opportunities to assess the quality of student work.
Personal Communication Oral questions and student responses used during interviews, class discussions, and informal conversation.
Physical Education Is the term of development of physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns; and skills in aquatics, dance, and individual and group names and sports (including intramural and lifetime sports). The term also refers to special physical education, adaptive physical education, movement, education, and motor development.
Portfolio Assessment The analysis of student work samples, assembled in portfolios to document student progress over time.
Pre-referral Interventions A series of procedures attempted by teachers for students who are experiencing problems, prior to referring them for special education services.
Present Level of Educational Performance Is a summary statement which describes the student's current achievement in the areas of need as determined by an evaluation.
Primary Learning Medium The primary learning medium is the medium most frequently used by a student with a visual impairment during classroom instruction. A primary learning medium can also be utilized in a wide variety of settings inside and outside the classroom. It should permit independence and efficiency in both reading and writing. A primary learning medium will become a primary living medium. It must, therefore, accommodate academic, nonacademic, and vocational needs and be applicable to adult activities following the termination of school.
Proficient Solid academic performance, demonstrates competency of subject matter, and applies knowledge to real world situations.
Program Accessibility The school district will ensure programs and activities are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
“Progressing” Partial mastery of essential knowledge and skills, partial success in tasks using this knowledge or skill.
Progress Monitoring Is a method of monitoring a student's progress that enables the IEP Team to discern whether changes need to be made in the IEP.
Related Services: Means developmental, corrective, and other services that are required to assist an individual with a disability to benefit from special education.
Reliability The amount of agreemeent among different observer's measurements or level placements to each others determines the assessment's reliability. A test’s consistency or the degree to which an assessment yields consistent results; ways to attain reliability include test-retest, alternate form, split-half, and inter rater comparisons. The manner in which an assessment is created, implemented, and scored all affect its reliability. Ways to increase reliability.
Reporting Data-based, systemic communication about student learning in writing, through portfolios, in three-way conferences, with numbers/letters or descriptive phrases, and using narratives.
Response Analysis Analysis in which both errors and correct responses are considered.
Restricted Response Essay An essay question that limits the form and content of students responses.
Review and Revision of the IEP Each agency shall initiate and conduct meetings to review each eligible individual's IEP periodically and, if appropriate, revise its provisions. A meeting must be held for this purpose at least once a year.
Rubric Rubrics consist of a fixed scale, a list of characteristics that describe criteria at each core for a particular outcome, and sample responses (anchors) for the various score points on the scale.
School Performance Index in Nebraska A formula which takes into account three factors: student performance, assessment quality, and unique local challenges.
Secondary Learning Medium A secondary learning medium is a medium that is learned in order to allow a student with visual impairment to perform specific tasks not easily performed in the primary learning medium. It may alleviate fatigue experienced when using the primary learning medium for extended periods of time. It may be appropriate when a visual prognosis indicates a future loss of vision and, therefore a changing learning medium. It may also be appropriate when functional assessment criteria suggest the student may benefit by using different media under some conditions.
Section 504 Part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States…shall, solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”
Selected-Response A choice given in a question or task from which students must choose what they believe is the best or correct answer.
Self-Monitoring A strategy where students keep track of and record information about their own behaviors.
Self-Paced Instruction A curriculum model assigned to allow students to move through a curriculum at their own pace.
Self-Reflection Thinking, recording, or communicating about the process and content of learning individuals do.
Short-term Objectives Measurable, intermediate steps between a student's present level of educational performance and the annual goals of the student.
Sociometric Technique An assessment procedure used to determine how students perceive their peers.
Special Education Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
Standard A clear statement that expresses what students are expected to know and be able to do.
Standard Deviation An accepted measure which indicates to what extent scores deviate from the mean (With a mean of 100, a standard deviation of +/- 15 points is equivalent to a score of 85 to 115.)
Standard Error of Measurement A statistic that estimates the amount of measurement error in a score.
Standardization Sample The group used to establish scores on norm-referenced tests.
Standardized Tests Tests that are constructed, administered, and scored under consistent procedures uniform to all students.  Standardization attempts to make scores comparable and attempts to give the students equal chances to demonstrate what they know.
Standard Score A derived score with a set mean and standard deviation; examples are IQ scores, scaled scores, and T-scores.
State of the Schools Report Profiles of individual school districts with information reported to NDE, regarding student performance of the standards.
Stem Main part of an assessment item. (An incomplete statement or a direct question.)
Summative Evaluation Assessment after an intervention to assess student achievement of goals, objectives, or outcomes.
Supplementary Aids and Services Services provided in order for an eligible individual to be served in the general education classroom environment, which may include intensive short-term specially designed instruction; educational interpreters; readers for individuals with visual impairments; special education assistants; special education assistants for individuals with physical disabilities for assistance in and about school, and for transportation; materials; and specialized or modified instructionally related equipment for use in the school.
Support Services are the specially designed instruction and activities which augment, supplement or support the educational program of eligible individuals.
Task Analysis The process in which a task is broken into essential components or subtasks, or the steps of procedure to do a task.
Tasks/Items Questions to answer, activity to complete.
Teacher Assessment Assessments developed by teachers.
Team Assessment is an approach that requires the active involvement of professionals from many fields, parents, perhaps the person with a disability, and other interested parties in the assessment process.
Team Teaching The utilization of more than one professional who actually co-teach students.
Trait Essential characteristics or qualities of a performance.
Transition Is a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed with an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.
Transportation Is a related service that refers to the means by which a student travels to and from school.
Validity Is how well an assessment measures what it is supposed to measure. Ways to increase validity.
Vocational Education Means organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.
Work Sample A permanent product created by the student.
Work Sample Analysis An assessment technique in which samples of student work are assessed.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©