07 | Assessment

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Tools for Assessing Students

Does the student need AEM, and if so, which specialized format(s) and technology are required? The following interactive tools can be used by teams to help with decisions about AEM. Additional assessment tools designed specifically for students with blindness or visual impairments are described in Addendum: TVI Guide. Schools needing further assistance in assessing students who have visual impairments may request outreach services from the Oklahoma School for the blind at: http://www.osb.k1.ok.us/.

AEM Navigator

The AEM Navigator from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials is an interactive tool that facilitates the process of decision-making about AEM for an individual student. The AEM Navigator includes guiding questions and useful resources related to determination of need, selection of format(s), acquisition of AEM, and selection of supports for use. Decisions and supporting information are saved to a Student Summary that can be edited, saved, and printed. The AEM Navigator also includes an optional, running to-do list for recording team member responsibilities. Find the AEM Navigator at: http://aem.cast.org/navigator/page/.

AEM Explorer

The AEM Explorer is a free downloadable simulation tool that combines grade-level digital text with accessibility features common to most text readers and literacy software. This tool is designed for readers with low vision, physical challenges, and learning and attentional difficulties who may benefit from enlarged, spoken, highlighted, or re-formatted text. The AEM Explorer assumes the user has vision and does not address braille use. Settings for magnification, background and text color, synthesized speech, highlighting, and layout can be manipulated to determine which supports will help a particular student to comprehend text. The AEM Explorer collects information and prepares a summary that can be saved and printed. Find the AEM Explorer at: http://goo.gl/UJt3KU.

Protocol for Accommodations in Reading (PAR)/ Universal Protocol for Accommodations in Reading (uPAR)

The PAR is an assessment developed by Dr. Denise DeCoste and Linda Bastiani Wilson in collaboration with Don Johnston, Inc. to assist educators in determining the optimal reading accommodation for students. The PAR helps determine whether a particular student needs materials read aloud, and if so, whether natural or synthetic speech is best. The PAR includes narrative and expository reading passages and scoring forms. The assessment has three parts: silent reading, human read-aloud, and synthesized speech read-aloud.

OSDE requires that students be assessed using the PAR prior to receiving a read-aloud accommodation on state tests. Don Johnston, Inc. offers the PAR free of charge in print form or as an online, fee-based service called uPAR. The online version includes recorded human voices and synthesized speech. To administer the synthesized speech portion using the print version, educators can use the built-in text-to-speech feature of their computer’s operating system, or a free online text-to-speech generator such as:

Both the print and online versions of the PAR can be accessed at: http://donjohnston.com/par.

The tools discussed on this page can be used to document a student's need for a read-aloud accommodation for the state English Language Arts (ELA) Assessments. The evidence must indicate that the student's ability to decode text or braille is severely limited, and that the accommodation is being used in daily instruction. (Note: The deadline for applying for this non-standard accommodation is Feb. 1 and applications must be submitted each year.) Learn more about the non-standard accommodation process at: https://sde.ok.gov/overview-non-standard-accommodations.