Posts Tagged ‘Assessment’

CMA (California Modified Assessment)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Having first heard of the CMA (California Modified Assessment) test last year, I got a real taste for it today at a meeting for resource specialist teachers. Basically, it’s a test for kids with disabilities to be given in lieu of the CAT6/CST, those nightmare tests I’ve been torturing kids with for years. (Try giving state tests to kids who are two or three years behind without any real accommodations, ADHD and SLD kids who two days into the two weeks of testing are ready to jump out of their skin. No fun.) As I noted to a colleague “This test is revolutionary.” Imagine: a test that lets kids use calculators without penalizing them, that shortens comprehension passages without dumbing them down. A TEST THAT ACTUALLY LETS THE STUDENT SUCCEED. Of course, there are certain provisos, which I share below, but the idea that students may be getting testing relief soon is very encouraging. A teacher at the meeting who piloted the test last year sang its praises, the Johnson Baby Shampoo of state exams: “No more tears.” We were all getting pretty worked up when the presenter told us it was too late to give the test this year; it has to be specially ordered. She also reminded us that only 2% of the school can take it. But I say, Who cares! It’s a start. And if I had a school-aged child who had  struggled with state tests in the past I’d be banging on the principal’s door. This new exam? This CMA? This is the test I want my child to take:


The CMA is a new grade-level assessment for students who have an individualized education program (IEP), are receiving grade-level instruction, and, even with interventions, will not achieve grade-level proficiency within the year covered by the student’s IEP. The purpose of the CMA tests is to allow students with disabilities greater access to demonstrate their achievement of the California content standards in English–language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science. Eligible students in grades four and seven also complete a writing assessment—the CMA for Writing—as a part of the CMA for ELA.

See the California Department of Education’s California Modified Assessment Web page for more information about the CMA.

Who Takes the CMA in 2009?

Students in grades three through eight may take one or more of the CMA tests if they:

  • Have an IEP that specifies that they take the CMA for one or more subject; and
  • Scored below basic or far below basic in a previous year on the CSTs for any subject and may have taken the CSTs with modifications (these students may take one or all of the grade-level CMA tests); and
  • Are not eligible to take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA).

Students shall not take the CMA if they:

  • Do not have an IEP; or
  • Are eligible to take the CAPA.

Podcast Seven

Sunday, February 8th, 2009


Regional Center, Lawyers, Public School, To my Son, Part II

Podcast Six

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Regional Center, Part II; To My Son, Part I

What Part of “Now” Don’t You Understand?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Big day today. Round two of evaluation at Regional Center. My wife and I are playing tag team: she brings our son for evaluation at Regional Center today; I bring him for evaluation at the school district next week. My big question now, though, is, What part of “Our son’s autistic,” don’t you understand? How many evaluations do we have to subject him to to get some help? We are so, so lucky that he isn’t severe, and to anyone out there with a severely autistic child, my hat is off to you. I can only imagine what you must be going through. Our son is mild, very mild. And we are happy for that. But he is autistic and he does need help and since insurance doesn’t cover the therapy he needs, we, his parents, need help too. We have a report in hand, an evaluation from a neuropsychologist, an expert in the field. Why is that not enough? “Well,” you might say, “the district/Regional Center isn’t made of money. It has to pick and choose, make sure that the most severe cases get help first. You should know that,” you might point out. “You teach special ed yourself. Haven’t you often complained when private school parents come to your school  to have their children evaluated, yuppies trying to get their children services that they probably don’t deserve, wasting your time when you could be teaching your own truly needy students, children who have real problems, unlike your son?” Yes, I would answer. I have judged others. I probably will again. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What Regional Center, or the school district thinks. My boy needs help. Now.

Podcast Five

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Obama, IEP’s, Floortime, Fiction: Pull

Are Your Ducks in a Row?

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

I will talk about this in my next podcast, but meanwhile here is some good advice from on how to get ready for your child’s public school special education assessment:

When the school district advises you that an assessment will take place, write to the school asking for the qualifications of the assessor and ask that you participate in the assessment. The law requires that an assessor be qualified to make the assessment. Further, “any standardized tests” are to be “administrated by trained and knowledgeable personnel.” (20 USC Section 1414(b)(3)(B)(ii)). (See Sample Letters in the Letters Section of this web site.)

Check your state law for the time lines that are applicable to assessments. In California, for instance, the school has 15 days to give you a proposed assessment plan containing a notice of parents’ rights. Days between regular school sessions and school vacation days of more than 5 days are not counted. The school must complete the assessment completed within 50 days.

It is advisable to ask an autism expert which tests would be appropriate before the assessment begins. If the school fails or refuses to perform the appropriate assessments, does not have a qualified professional to make the assessment, or takes too long, see an attorney or advocate. Again, be sure to write the school before the assessment takes place and ask for the qualifications of the assessor.

And from, number 4 on the 10 most common IEP mistakes:

Requesting a related service instead of an assessment that supports the need for a related service.

Many times parents will request services such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. in the IEP meeting. Frequently the IEP committee will respond by stating that the student does not need the service. We recommend that parents do not request the service but request the assessment that supports the need for the related service. For example, instead of requesting speech for your child request a speech assessment.

Only a certified or licensed professional is qualified to determine if a  child needs or does not need a particular related service. As in #2, list the reasons why you think an assessment is educationally necessary for your child and submit your request to the IEP committee as part of the IEP minutes.