Computer Literacy and Kids with Disabilities

With the small amount of information currently available regarding the STAAR A assessment, teachers may be looking for resources around computer based learning and students with disabilities. A recent paper, from the National Center on Educational Outcomes, looks at some of the factors that affect students with disabilities on computer based assessments: Computer-based Testing: Practices and Considerations. Some of the key findings:

  • Classroom instruction time may be needed to train students how to navigate a computer-based test and how to use test tools.
  • Without prior training students often are unable to correctly use online rulers, protractors, and other online measurement tools.
  • States and test vendors sometimes fail to make practice tests and manuals available far enough ahead of test day to provide sufficient instructional time.
  • Students may also prefer CBT because it has the option of customizing the assessment based on personal preferences. For example, all students may be allowed to decide what background color they would like on the screen, or what font size they would prefer.
  • Interactions with computers may cause anxiety for some students.
  • Computer anxiety does not refer to negative attitudes towards computers, but rather to a student’s “emotional reaction to using computers” (Erdogan, 2008, p. 823).
  • Erdogan asserts that providing students with more opportunities to use computers during instruction has the potential to reduce computer anxiety.
  • In a small study focused on individuals with intellectual disabilities, Stock, Davies, and Wehmeyer (2004) found that many study participants preferred computer-based tests. The participants particularly liked being able to take the test with little assistance. Still, when students have the opportunity to self-select accommodations on a computer-based test, they sometimes make poor decisions.
  • Innovative formats may be especially challenging for students with visual impairments or poor fine motor skills. For example, it is difficult to braille innovative test items. It is also sometimes difficult to describe some online graphics without giving the answer away (Kamei-Hannan, 2008; Kettler et al., 2010; Russell et al., 2010; Thompson et al., 2002).

Educators may also be interested in the statewide results for the 8th grade Computer Literacy assessment from 2013-2014: Report Summary_13-14

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