6  Standards and Reporting

6.1 State Adoption of Alternate Academic Achievement Standards for SWSCD

The Oregon Extended assessment (ORExt), Oregon’s Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Academic Achievement Standards (AA-AAAS), is part of the Oregon Statewide Assessment System. The ORExt is administered to Oregon students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (SWSCD) in English language arts and mathematics in Grades 3-8 and 11. The ORExt is administered in science in Grades 5, 8, & 11. The ORExt links to the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics. The new ORExt is dually linked to Oregon’s former science standards, as well as to the NGSS. Results from the English language arts and math administrations are included in calculations of participation and performance for Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) - a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Science participation is also included as part of the Title 1 Assessment System requirements, and is administered in grades 5, 8, & 11. The revised ORExt is built upon a vertical scale in order to support reliable determinations of annual academic growth in ELA and mathematics in Grades 3-8. The complete vertical scaling plan and operational item selection decision rules are located in the Item Writer Training.

6.1A State Formally Adopted Alternate Academic Achievement Standards

The State Board of Education formally adopted the AAAS and achievement level descriptors (ALDs) on June 25, 2015 (see Adoption of Alternate Academic Achievement Standards). The ELA, Math, and Science AAAS, including both the ALDs and the requisite cut scores are included in the Alternate Academic Achievement Standards.

6.1B State Applies AAAS to All Public School SWSCD in Tested Grades

The state applies the AAAS to all public school-served SWSCD who participate in the ORExt in Grades 3-8 & 11 in English language arts and mathematics, and in Grades 5, 8, & 11 in science.

6.1C State’s AAAS Include At Least Three Levels, ALDs, and Cut Scores

The alternate academic achievement standards in Oregon are composed of four levels (though only three are required). In descending order, they are (a) Level 1, (b) Level 2, (c) Level 3, and (d) Level 4. Level 1 and Level 2 performances represent proficient achievement, while the bottom two levels represent achievement that is not yet proficient. The procedures followed to develop Oregon’s alternate academic achievement standards were consistent with Title 1 assessment system requirements, including the establishment of cut scores, where relevant. In order to define four levels of proficiency, Oregon set three cut scores across all subject areas: (a) to separate Level 1 from Level 2, (b) to separate Level 2 from Level 3, and, (c) to separate Level 3 from Level 4. The alternate academic achievement standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science for the ORExt, including the achievement level descriptors (ALDs) and cut scores, were established during standard setting meetings held on June 15 (science), 16 (mathematics), and 17 (English language arts).

6.2 Achievement Standard Setting

Standard Setting meetings were held at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR on June 15, 2015 (Science), June 16, 2015 (Mathematics), and June 17, 2015 (English language arts). A total of 53 standard setters were involved in the process: 11 in Science, and 21 in both English language arts and Mathematics. Panelists were assembled in grade level teams of three, where two members were special educators and one member was a content specialist.

The panelists were highly educated. Over 90% of the panel possessed a Master’s degree or higher. Fifty-seven (57%) percent of the panelists had over 11 years of teaching experience. Seventy-six percent (76%) of the panelists had some experience working with students with significant cognitive disabilities with 64% licensed as Special Educators. The majority of panel members were female (87%), from the Northwest of the state (87%), and White (83%). No panel member self-identified with Oregon’s major minority population (Hispanic).

In addition to the live training during standard setting meetings, panelists were asked to complete several training requirements prior to the standard setting meetings, which oriented them to the student population of students with significant cognitive disabilities (SWSCDs), the Oregon Extended Assessment test design and history, as well as the bookmarking standard setting method. Panelists were quite confident in their preparation and final judgments, as evidenced by responses to the questions: (a) ” The training helped me understand the bookmark method and how to perform my role as a standard setter.” (b) “I am confident about the defensibility and appropriateness of the final recommended cut scores.” and, (c) “Overall, I am confident that the standard setting procedures allowed me to use my experience and expertise to recommend cut scores for the ORExt.” The hearty majority of standard setters strongly agreed with these statements, while all participants agreed.

The nine-step process implemented for these standard setting meetings was based on Hambleton and Pitoniak (2006) as reported by Yen, Fitzpatrick, and Brennan (2006) (Educational Measurement, 4th Edition, pp. 433-470). Standard setting evaluation questions posed to participants were adapted from Cizek (2012), Setting Performance Standards (2012). Standard setters set cut scores and recommended Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) for the Oregon State Board of Education to consider. The cut scores were articulated to reflect vertical development, or at least maintenance, of expectations across grades in a manner that respected standard setter judgments to the greatest possible degree. Six changes were made in ELA and Mathematics. Science is not built upon a vertical scale, so no cut score adjustments were necessary in Science. The cut scores are listed below.

Note: The ELA and Math vertical scales for the ORExt are centered on 200 in grades 3-8 and can be used to document year-to-year growth. None of the other scales should be used for longitudinal comparisons. All Grade 11 scales are independent and centered on 900. The grade 5 Science scale is independent and centered on 500, while the Grade 8 Science scale is independent and centered on 800. An independent auditor evaluated the bookmarking standard setting process. The auditor’s comprehensive report can be found in the ORExt Assessment Technical Report on Standard Setting.

6.3 Challenging and Aligned Academic Achievement Standards

Oregon educators initially evaluated new Oregon Essentialized Assessment Frameworks in two respects. First, educators were asked to determine the appropriateness of the standards selected for inclusion and exclusion in the Essentialized Standards (yes/no). Second, the level of linkage between the Essentialized Standards and grade level content standard was evaluated (0 = no link, 1 = sufficient link, 2 = strong link). Summary results are provided in the tables below. A comprehensive essentialized standard to grade level standard linkage study, as well as essentialized standard to item alignment study, is provided in the Oregon Extended Assessment Alignment Study.

6.4 Reporting

Oregon’s reporting system facilitates appropriate, credible, and defensible interpretation and use of its assessment data. With regard to the ORExt, the purpose is to provide the state technically adequate student performance data to ascertain proficiency on grade level state content standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities (see Sections 3 and 4). In addition, the state makes it clear that results from the Oregon Extended are not comparable to results from the SBA/OAKS (see Test Administration Manual). Nevertheless, the test meets rigorous reliability expectations (see Section 4.1). Validity is considered here as an overarching summation of the Oregon Extended assessment system, as well as the mechanisms that Oregon uses to continuously improve the ORExt assessment (see Consequential Validity Survey Results).

6.4A Public Reporting

Oregon reports participation and assessment results for all students and for each of the required subgroups in its reports at the school, district, and state levels. The state does not report subgroup results when these results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student. The calculation rule followed is that the number of students in the subgroup must meet the minimum cell size requirement for each AMO decision: participation, achievement in English language arts and math, attendance, and graduation, where appropriate (see State Annual Report Card).

6.4B State Reports Interpretable Results

Oregon develops and disseminates individual student data upon final determination of accuracy. The state provides districts with Individual Student Reports (ISRs) that meet most relevant requirements. The state incorporated the Standard Error of Measure (SEM) for each student score into the report templates. The SEM associated with each cut score is provided in Section 4.1B. Also, see the example ISR in 6.4C below.

6.4C State Provides Individual Student Reports

Oregon’s student reports provide valid and reliable information regarding achievement on the assessments relative to the AAS. The reliability of the data is addressed in Section 4.1. Validity is considered here as an overarching summation of the Oregon Extended assessment system, as well as the mechanisms that Oregon uses to continuously improve the Oregon Extended assessment. The ISRs clearly demonstrate the students’ scale score relative the AAAS that is relevant for that content area and grade level (see Section 4.4).

Sample of individual student report card. The Oregon ISRs provide information for parents, teachers, and administrators to help them understand and address a student’s academic needs. These reports are displayed in a simple format that is easy for stakeholders to understand. District representatives can translate results for parents as necessary. Scaled score interpretation guidance is published in the Decision Making Related To Scaled Scores.

6.5 Analytic Summary

6.5.1 Item-Level Information

Overwhelmingly, items appear appropriate based on point measure correlations and mean square outfit. Most items adequately contribute to the underlying constructs they are measuring for each grade and content area across these metrics, and those which do not will be flagged for review.

Two pairs of groups were assessed for differential item functioning: those coded as male vs. female and those coded as white vs. non-white. In both sets of analyses, substantial differential item functioning was observed on several items. There was some balance in who was favored for both sets of analyses, but in the end: (a) those coded as males were favored by 14 more items than those coded as females and (b) those coded as White were only favored by 1 more item than those coded as non-White.

There was good overlap in persons abilities and item difficulty.

Items were flagged for review if they had inadequate point measure correlations, unfavorable mean square outfit, or substantial differential item functioning.

6.5.2 Test-Level Information

For many grades’ tests, one or more AMO level is not well represented. This is most often AMO 4 (Exceeds), but is occasionally AMO 2. In some cases, this is because the scaled score range which corresponds to a given AMO is very small (e.g., 2 scaled score points in Grade 7 math).

Conditional standard error of measurement (SEM) around the AMO cutscores indicate good separation between cutscores in most, but not all cases. Areas which display excessive overlap between SEMs should be considered if another standards setting occurs, as greater separation between these SEMs will lead to more accurate separation between AMOs.

Test reliabilities were good with (above 0.8) for all contents and grades at the total test level (between 0.8 and 0.94).

Test information functions overlaid with the thresholds of AMOs show the AMO 1-2 and AMO 2-3 thresholds are always in areas with acceptable marginal reliability (i.e., above 0.8). For several tests, the threshold of AMO 3-4 is between 0.8 and 0.7. For these tests, item composition should be explored to improve marginal reliability at this cut. This also relates to a general trend of excessive information at the lower end of the ability spectrum. If the test leveraged more difficult items, students could be assigned to AMO with greater confidence.

Test characteristic curves (TCCs) demonstrate a clear vertical scale across both ELA and Math for grades 3-8, with roughly even spacing across grades. The only exception to this is math grades 5 and 6 which overlap; modification of the item set for these grades can improve this cross over for the next year.

Across grades, content areas correlate with one another within ranges that demonstrate they are measuring similar but distinct concepts. Paired with validity from other aspects of items and tests, as well as expert opinion, indicates ORExt measures several related but distinct aspects of grade-appropriate ability. Correlation between ELA and its subscores (particularly reading) suggest there may be excessive representation of the subdomain; this is a place where item composition could be reconfigured or conceptualization of the construct is reconsidered.

6.5.3 Person-Level Information

Across years, the most common annual measurable objective (AMO) was most frequently:

  • AMO 2 (Nearly Meets) then AMO 1 (Does Not Yet Meet) for ELA
  • AMO 1 then AMO 2 for Math
  • AMO 1 then AMO 3 (Meets) for Science

Rudner’s (Rudner 2005) classification accuracy and consistency metrics show individuals were well classified into their AMO level across grades and tests.

There were differences in average RIT scores across primary IDEA code within a grade and content; occasionally these were significant. These differences, observable in text and systematic over- and underperformance by a specific IDEA code, should be reviewed for fairness and accessibility in test administration across these samples.

6.5.4 ORora

The Oregon Observational Rating Assessment (ORora) results demonstrate that approximately 21-32% of the SWSCD who participated in the ORExt also took the ORora, depending upon grade level. The participants were primarily students with multiple, severe disabilities with very limited communication systems. Such students typically score very low RIT scores, as ORora is administered either due to poor performance leading to discontinuation of the ORExt or by choice.

We have two pieces of evidence that differences in the population exist between those who take the ORora and those who do not: the comparison of ability estimates on the same test and the content area correlations.

Relatively small numbers of ORora takers had high scores on any subsection of the ORExt, which confirms that fewer individuals who took the ORora opted into it (compared to those who were redirected due to ORExt performance).

Content area correlations are different for those who take the ORora, compared to those who do not. For the most part, content areas did not correlate as highly among those who took the ORora, compared to those who did not. ORora scores also displayed very low correlations with ability estimates for all contents, confirming that ORora measures distinct constructs from those tests.

Among those who took the ORora, the vast majority (~76%) met minimum participation on the ORExt alongside completion of the ORora. There were, however, a non-negligible number of students that (a) did not meet minimum participation in all subject areas (~8%), (b) took insufficient items to meet minimum participation in all subject areas (~8%), or (c) did not attempt any items except the ORora (~8%). Future training should focus on ensuring QAs and QTs understand the minimum participation rules, especially in cases which result in students completing an ORora.

6.6 Conclusions

In sum, the rigor of the procedural development and statistical outcomes of the ORExt were substantive and support the assessments intended purpose. Procedural evidence includes essentialized standards development, item development, item content and bias reviews, an independent alignment study and item selection based upon item characteristics. Outcome-related evidence included measure reliability analyses, point measure correlations, outfit mean squares, item difficulty and person ability distributions, and convergent and divergent validity evidence. These sources of evidence were all quite good and provide important validity evidence.

The test development process adhered to procedural guidelines defined by the Association et al. (2018) AERA/APA/NCME Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (2018), as well as incorporating procedures that are known in the field to be best practice. For example, an independent auditor evaluated alignment in 2016-17. Documentation collected in the alignment study report suggests that the ORExt assessment system is aligned based on five evaluation components: a) standard selection for essentialization, b) strength of linkage between essentialized standards and grade level content standards, c) alignment between items and essentialized standards, d) alignment between the essentialized standards and the achievement level descriptors, and e) alignment between the achievement level descriptors and the ORExt test items. In addition, the ORExt reflects what highly qualified Oregon educators believe represents the highest professional standards for the population of students with significant cognitive disabilities, as evidenced in our consequential validity study by teacher support of the academic content on the ORExt as well as the behaviors sampled during test administration.

The 2017-18 Oregon Consequential Validity study provided important information for future administrations of the ORExt. Results indicated historical concerns that were not possible to address, such as the ongoing tension between assessing life skills and academics, but also to some actionable steps with a focus toward continuous improvement. Respondents pointed to positive attributes of the ORExt, especially those involving test administration and design and felt somewhat positive regarding various educational impacts of the ORExt.

During the 2021-22 ORExt testing window, feedback from the field and the number of students administered the tablet based ORExt indicated assessors preferred administration of the tablet/web-based assessment versus paper/pencil. Benefits expressed by the field indicated increased student engagement, improved standardization, ease of use by teachers, and resource protection (i.e., time, printing, expense). Practice tests were available to familiarize teachers and students to the tablet format prior to administration of the secure tests. Based on the 2021-22 testing window, enhancements are in process to improve the tablet/web-based administration for the 2022-23 testing window. These improvements include updates to make administration/data entry more efficient for assessors and additional alerts if devices are no longer online.

Documenting evidence of validity remains an ongoing and continuous process. Our efforts to continue to improve the assessment system are outlined below, as well as in Sections 3 and 4 above. We also have studies planned over the course of the next three years that will help to solidify the evidence that is accumulating. All of the evidence we have at hand suggests that the ORExt is sufficient to its stated purpose of providing reliable determinations of student proficiency at the test level in order to support systems level analysis of district and state programs. The ORExt will hopefully continue to improve over time due to field-testing and constant monitoring and review, and additional validity evidence will be gathered.

As mentioned above in Section 3.1A, data are presented to support the claim that Oregon’s AA-AAAS provides the state technically adequate student performance data to ascertain proficiency on grade level state content standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities - which is its defined purpose. In this technical report, we have provided content validity evidence related to the ORExt test development process (i.e., essentialization process, linkage study, distributed item review, test blueprint, item writer training and demographics, and item reviewer training and demographics), ORExt test reliability evidence, and ORExt consequential validity evidence. Further analyses over the coming years are planned to continue the development of technical documentation for overall construct validity of the ORExt.

6.7 Next Steps

Any effort to reduce the number of items (cognitive demand) beyond the current minimum of 36 items, results in the need to revisit standards alignment, item writing, and standards setting. In order to move to a matrix sampling or CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing) the current ORExt would need significant alterations throughout. The Alternate SEED Survey should be analyzed in terms of the utility provided to both ODE and end-users (district and teaching staff). Cognitive Labs should be initiated to gain a better understanding of the effort required, quality of questions asked, and alignment of items to student experience. These labs would provide a focus on key concepts to inform ODE’s decision making. While ORExt currently (past 8 years) has a vertical scale, no efforts have been made to report growth for students in content areas across the testing years. Basically the vertical scale is underutilized. Further analysis of the vertical scale, coupled with new data visualization (graphical representation), should be employed to inform end-users of both the presence and utility of a growth model. Collaboration with ODE is needed to ensure that the intended purpose of the growth model meets desired outcomes. Software currently under development will enhance test construction (e.g., test information functions, test characteristic curves, etc.) prior to administration. Enhancements to the Distributive Item Review platform will ensure previous processes are substantiated with an automated verification of scope and coverage.