The intention of educational researchers on alternative assessments in various professional education publications were to persuade general educators toward collaborative teaching by providing analytical research to support general education for special needs students. "Teacher perceptions and the consequential validity of an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities" examines the variables of teacher perceptions that may effect the validity of alternate assessment in regards to special needs students (Roach, A.R., Elliott, S.N., Berndt, S., 2007). R.J. Kettler and the research team stated in their article, "What do alternate assessments of alternate academic achievement standards measure? that the results from their study support the adaptive behavior, academic skills, and academic enablers as measures for academic achievement for special needs students.
Many public schools and private schools are switching their classrooms and classroom managements to collaborative teaching team approach (CTT). Collaborative teaching teams consist of two teachers, one general education teacher, and the other, a special education teacher. Together, they plan their educational strategic lessons and classroom management to address the needs of their students, which included students with special needs. These special needs may also include English as Second Language (ESL) and/or English Language Learners (ELL) students. Some teachers are for the change and others are against it. To justified collaborative teaching teams (CTT), many research articles were written to persuade teachers that collaborative teaching teams are successful. For this article, two research articles about alternative assessment for special needs students from well-established journals were chosen to substantiate or not substantiate the use of collaborative teaching teams. Although two research articles about alterative assessment will not substantiate the use of this strategic educational approach, the articles will give some insight for or against the CTT initiative.
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The first article, "Teacher perceptions and the consequential validity of an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities" written by Andrew T. Roach, Stephen N. Elliott, and Sandra Berndt, focused on the analysis of measuring the teacher's perception in regards to the alternative assessment for special need students. Researchers were concern about how the teachers' perception affects the outcome of the alternative assessment when given to special needs students (Roach, Elliott, Berndt, 2007). The researchers were concern about the attitudes teachers develop when they have to take the time and spend the so-called 'extra energy' to administer the alternative assessments. Alternative assessments are given when the special needs students are not able to take the academic assessments. The alternative assessment (AA) must meet the state's standards before being administered to students.
In the second article, "What do alternate assessments of alternate academic achievement standards measure? A multitrait-multimethod analysis" from Ryan J. Kettler and the research team were more concern about 'what' the alternative assessment measures. They were concern about what the AA actually measures in terms of academic abilities and adaptive behaviors such as social skills, physical skills, etc. To find out the 'what', the researchers used the 'multitrait-multimethod analysis' approach to get the answers. The results from the research were that
"the AA reading and math scores may reflect a unitary construct,
the AA scores are highly related to adaptive behavior and academic competence and achievement, and
all these scores represent an unique but overlapping constructs (Kettler, Elliott, et. al., 2010)."
Before examining the results of this research, the first article about teachers' perception about alternative assessments will be discussed.
Teacher Perceptions and the Consequential Validity of an Alternate Assessment for Students With Significant Cognitive Disabilities
The results of this research may indicate small amounts of variations of decline positive attitudes/perceptions toward alternative assessments among special education teachers according to the student grade level. To measure these results, the researchers created the WAA (Wisconsin Alternative Assessment) Teacher Survey - a paper and pencil survey was given to teachers (fourth, eighth, and 10th grades) to complete and share their perceptions concerning the WAA process and results.
The results suggested that teachers were "generally ambivalent to somewhat positive." Some reservations about the time required to complete the assessment were reported but the most important discovery was that the survey revealed the regression of positive perceptions about the WAA process as student grade level advanced. According to the research results, "there were no additional predictor variable accounted for a significant proportion of the variation in teachers' response on the WAA Teacher Survey (Roach, A.R., Elliot, S.N., Brendt, S., 2007)."
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Although the researchers mentioned various limitations about this research including geographic influence, the one major weakness about this research is the accountability of the teachers' perceptions about the AA throughout the school year. Teachers may express their feelings at the moment while taking the survey. Emotions/attitudes and perceptions do fluctuate throughout the school year and there are many variables to influence them. To confirm the results, researchers of this project will need to take surveys throughout the school year and a few years afterward to get a genuine read on the teacher's perceptions about the AA.
What Do Alternate Assessments of Alternate Academic Achievement Standards Measure? A Multitrait-Multimethod Analysis
Before examining the results of this research, the research approach needs to be understood to understand the results. What is the 'multitrait-multimethod' approach? The multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) approach is an integrative, multivariate (many variables) framework for research purposes. Teachers can systematically gather valid information and discriminate or differentiate it in a single study. The research study consisted of the following:
Multiple Traits - Academic performance,
Academic enablers ("e.g., social skills, study skills,
motivation, and engagement) are student attitudes and
behaviors that facilitate a student's participation in, and
benefit from academic instruction in the classroom"
(DiPerna, J.C. 2008)
Multiple Methods - Individually administered achievement tests
Teacher completed rating scales
This particular study was more comprehensive as it focused on academics and not perceptions and it involved many states, not just one singular state.
The results indicated that AAs had common measurements with the related traits like adaptive behavior, academic skills, and academic enablers, meaning, teachers will interpret such findings as measures of academic achievement particularly for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. The teachers will just have to make sure to continued making the AA measures what it suppose to measure and not allow it to measure adaptive behavior, thus, becoming more and more academic (Kettler, et. al., 2010).
It is mandatory for special students to take these alternative assessments in order to fulfill the state's mandate but in spite of it, teachers should continue to educate students with special needs for every day living, as this is necessary for their survival. According the authors, many teachers, regardless of the legislative efforts, in particular collaborative teaching teams and such, to focus on accountability for student learning in the core academic subjects, opt to maintain a difficult balance between academic skills and non-academic skills in their classroom instruction. The valiant efforts of classroom teachers to provide non-academic skills for students of significant disabilities to live successful live outside of schools are essential (Kettler, R.J., et. al., 2010).
On the other hand and based on experiences working in CTT classrooms, it is recommended for future research to take into consideration the potential harmful effects of personality clashing of teaching teams and it effects on the students. In addition, research can be done on the dynamics of teaching teams in the day-to-day operations of the classroom, and the dynamics between the students and the teachers (individually and collectively) in order to enhance the researchers' persuasion for collaborative teaching teams in general education classrooms.