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Assessment Accessibility

To ensure that assessments are fair and accessible, it is important to allow all students to show what they know, particularly students with special learning needs such as students with disabilities and English learners.

Increasingly in California classrooms, a Universal Design approach is being used to modify instruction according to IEPs, 504 plans, and language needs. Applying some of these processes and approaches to assessment takes time and practice.

As mentioned in Unit 2, Smarter Balanced uses an approach called Access by Design, which includes an array of universal digital tools and features available to all students. Examples of these tools include: text-to-speech administration of the mathematics test and ELA items, screen magnification, guided line readers, and color options designed to increase contrast and readability. Students with an IEP or 504 plan or other highly specialized needs will have what is specified by their individual plans, such as: keyword translation glossaries, auditory calming, audio captioning, administration in American Sign Language, or braille administration and response formats.

For more information about Universal Design, visit The National Center on Universal Design for Learning: