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9/6/2012 10:29:00 AM
Smarter Balanced Announces Advisory Committees on English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities

Smarter Balanced Announces Advisory Committees on English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities
National experts provide guidance to ensure assessments meet the needs of all students


OLYMPIA, Wash. - August 29, 2012 - The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) convened two advisory committees this month to address the needs of English language learners and students with disabilities. Comprised of national experts in student assessment, accommodations strategies, language acquisition, and learning disabilities, these panels provide feedback to Smarter Balanced staff, work groups, and contractors to ensure that the assessments provide valid, reliable, and fair measures of student achievement and growth toward college and career readiness.

"Smarter Balanced is developing next-generation assessments that will improve accessibility by providing appropriate accommodations to address visual, auditory, and physical access barriers," said Magda Chia, Ph.D., director of support for under-represented students. "In addition, the assessments will address the needs of English language learners through accommodations that reduce linguistic burdens. Developed in collaboration with member states and work groups, educators, and experts in the field, these accessibility and accommodations options represent an important advancement that will give all students - regardless of their background - the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills."

The committees met earlier this month for day-long sessions in Denver and Chicago to discuss the Consortium’s approach to item development, accommodations and accessibility review, validity, and translation. The advisory committees will continue to collaborate with Smarter Balanced through the end of 2012 supported by grant funding provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Smarter Balanced is also coordinating with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) on issues involving English language learners. Members of the advisory committees include:

English Language Learners Advisory Committee
  • Jamal Abedi, Ph.D., University of California at Davis (ELL assessment and accommodations)
  • Edward Bosso, Gallaudet University (American Sign Language)
  • Donna Christian, Ph.D., Center for Applied Linguistics (linguistics)
  • Richard Durán, Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara (bilingualism educational assessment)
  • Kathy Escamilla, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder (bilingualism and biliteracy)
  • James Green, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder; Vanderbilt University (Native American education)
  • Kenji Hakuta, Ph.D., Stanford University (bilingualism and the acquisition of English)
  • Okhee Lee, Ph.D., New York University (science education)
  • Robert Linquanti, WestEd (assessment, evaluation, and accountability policies)
  • Maria Santos, Oakland Unified School District (district administration)
  • Guadalupe Valdes, Ph.D., Stanford University (bilingualism teacher training)

Students with Disabilities Advisory Committee
  • Carol Allman, Ph.D., Florida State Department of Education (visual impairments and blindness)
  • Bridget Dalton, Ed.D., University of Colorado at Boulder (assistive technology)
  • Donald D. Deshler, Ph.D., University of Kansas (learning disabilities)
  • Barbara Ehren, Ed.D., University of Central Florida (speech/language impairments)
  • Jack M. Fletcher, Ph.D., University of Houston (brain injury)
  • Jacqueline F. Kearns, Ed.D., University of Kentucky (Intellectual impairments)
  • Susan Rose, Ph.D., University of Minnesota (hearing impairments and deafness)
  • Ann C. Schulte, Ph.D., North Carolina State University (ADHD)
  • Richard Simpson, Ed.D., University of Kansas (autism)
  • Stephen W. Smith, Ph.D., University of Florida (emotional/behavioral disabilities)
  • Martha L. Thurlow, University of Minnesota (accommodations policies and practices)

Biographies for committee members are available at: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/about/advisory-committees/.

In addition to the advisory committees, a state-led Accessibility and Accommodations Work Group focuses on ensuring the assessments are designed to meet the needs of special student populations. As part of the development of accessibility and accommodations policies, Smarter Balanced commissioned two literature reviews of existing research on assessing English language learners and students with disabilities. These documents are available on a new webpage devoted to under-represented students: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/parents-students/support-for-under-represented-students/.

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