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Evaluating the Comparability of Scores from Achievement Test Variations

In 2006, a consortium of state departments of education, led by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the Council of Chief State School Officers, was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education1 to investigate methods of determining comparability of variations of states' assessments used to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). 

NCLB peer review guidelines includes a requirement that states using variations of their assessments based on grade level academic achievement standards must provide evidence of comparability of proficiency from these variations to proficiency on the general assessment2 (U.S. Department of Education, July 2007, revised January 2009). The consortium of states focused on two types of K-12 achievement test variations: computer-based tests that are built to mirror the state's paper-based tests and test formats that are designed to be more accessible to specific student populations than the general test is. In addition, the studies conducted included a study of the comparability of an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards; the comparability issues related to those assessments are different from the ones discussed here.