Including students with special educational needs into large-scale assessments of competencies: Challenges and approaches within the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS)

Jana Heydrich, Sabine Weinert, Lena Nusser, Cordula Artelt, Claus H. Carstensen

Abstract


The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) as a newly set up large-scale assessment study in Germany has accepted the challenge of including students with special educational needs (SEN) into its conceptual design. Particularly, students with SEN in the area of learning (SEN-L) are oversampled within the NEPS. Their educational biographies and relevant context factors will be assessed longitudinally based on interviews and questionnaires given to their parents, teachers, and school principals. However, obtaining data (test data, questionnaires) from the target subjects themselves is by no means a simple, straightforward endeavor but requires careful research strategies.

In this article we will briefly discuss problems of specifying the target population of students with SEN-L and present a focused review of research literature relevant to the inclusion of students with SEN-L into large-scale assessments. Specifically, we will focus on challenges relating to the standardized, reliable, and valid testing of competencies of students with SEN-L within large-scale assessments. Additionally, the article outlines the basic design of feasibility studies within the NEPS to test for the structural comparability of competence assessments in special schools with those in regular schools. These studies will further explore the necessity of test accommodations for students with SEN-L and the impact of those accommodations on the validity and comparability of test scores of students with and without SEN-L.

Keywords


Special educational needs; Measuring competencies; Accommodations; Feasibility study

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Journal for Educational Research Online/Journal für Bildungsforschung Online (ISSN 1866-6671)