An analysis of teacher perspectives on the Mississippi Alternate Assessment of Extended Curriculum Framework

Greerlynn Myrtice Bezue-Tull, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

For more than a decade, federal legislation has been characterized by increasing standards of accountability for learning for all students. With the passage of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, schools are now accountable for special education students, even students with severe cognitive disabilities, in every aspect of education, including increased student achievement through access to the general education curriculum. Moreover, IDEIA (2004) mandated that students with severe cognitive disabilities participate in high-stakes accountability testing through individual state-developed alternate assessment measures. This study investigated whether Mississippi's special education teachers perceived the Mississippi Alternate Assessment of Educational Curriculum Framework (MAAECF) as providing an accurate assessment of performance for students with severe cognitive disabilities. The study also examined the extent and ways that the MAAECF is used in curricular and instructional decisions for students identified as having severe cognitive disabilities in Mississippi schools. Finally, this study investigated teacher perspective of the MAAECF and the extent to which training, support, feedback, and student interaction might have impacted the accuracy, usefulness, and quality of the MAAECF. A quantitative research design was used for this study. A researcher-developed survey, the Alternate Assessment Rating Scale (AARS), was provided to participants in the six southern counties of the Mississippi gulf coast. The results from the AARS provided quantitative data that were analyzed using appropriate statistical tests to provide insight into the researcher's questions. This study revealed that Mississippi special education teachers perceive the following of the MAAECF: not providing an accurate assessment of performance for their students with severe cognitive disabilities; that they infrequently use the data from the MAAECF in making curricular and instructional decisions; the quality of training programs is believed it to be of good quality; that in regard to accuracy in measuring student performance, the student interaction component made the greater difference; that regards to usefulness of the results of the MAAECF, the support component of the MAAECF made the most difference; that with regard to the quality of administering the MAAECF, feedback and support made the most difference and that overall, Mississippi special education teachers from various counties on the gulf coast perceived the use of the MAAECF as being beneficial despite not accurately depicting their student's abilities.