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“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.”

Participants Needed!

The Arc of the United States is working with The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) at the University of Kansas and we need your help!

We are hosting a 2-hour focus group with parents and guardians of children with disabilities who take the Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA) test. If your child participates in this assessment, we want you to share your views with us at The Arc of Illinois’ Annual Convention on April 23rd, 2014 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM.

Staff from the University of Kansas and The Arc of the United States will provide information about the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment, a new test designed to support better instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities, and ask you to provide feedback on mock score reports and other materials that will be provided to parents. Each participant will receive a $60 gift card for his or her input.

We are looking for parents of children who have taken the Illinois Alternate Assessment. This is the standardized test that students with the most significant disabilities will take—students who would not be able to take the ISAT or PSAE, even with accommodations, since all students need to be included in standardized testing under No Child Left Behind.

I have attached the state’s guidelines for participation in case they are helpful. Students with mild or moderate ID will probably not take this test, nor should students with Asperger’s or mild autism or disabilities that are primarily emotional or behavioral. The test is designed for students with disabilities like significant brain injury, little or no formal communication system, or multiple disabilities. The state uses the rough benchmark of an IQ at or below 55, although we certainly will not be asking any questions about this.

Neal Kingston, the Principal Investigator on the project, has asked that we do our best to identify parents whose children have a variety of different disabilities within the range of children who will take this test—he has suggested we try to include parents of a few children who do not use formal communication systems, a few children who may have multiple disabilities, as well as a few whose disabilities are not so significant.

I understand that this is a pretty specific request. We are not expecting a perfect result. But if we can get 6-10 parents in the room representing children with a range of abilities, it definitely helps make sure the test will be accessible for more of the children who will need to take it. In the past, chapters have mostly reached out to parents whose children they know one on one to see if they can recruit this way.

I believe the test is administered beginning in grade 3, so children whose parents would be eligible would be in grades 3-12.

Please RSVP by e-mail or phone, and we will provide you with information about the project and a copy of the consent form. You do not need to prepare anything else for the focus group. RSVP to Faye Manaster at 866-931-1110 or familytofamily@thearcofil.org.

For more information, please contact:

Casey Nitsch
(202) 600-3486

About this project:

CETE received funding from the US Department of Education to create an alternate assessment system for students with significant cognitive disabilities, and researchers there are interested in learning more from parents about what kinds of information they get about the alternate assessment process, how it affects them and their children, and how it can be improved.

This focus group will be audiotaped for our review, but all results and information obtained from your time with us will be strictly confidential. We will not ask for any identifiable information about your child, nor will this information be tracked if it is shared with us in the course of the discussion.