Indicator 3 | Participation and Performance on Statewide Assessments

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Close up of a chart tracking progress by month.Updated, April 2013

IDEA, our nation’s special education law, requires that children with disabilities participate in statewide assessment programs, with or without accommodations, unless the IEP team determines that such a large-scale assessment would not be appropriate for the child.

If the IEP team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular regular State or districtwide assessment of student achievement, the IEP must include a statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.

Indicator 3 is intended to provide States and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) with concrete data regarding how students with disabilities are participating in statewide assessments. Indicator 3 reads:


Participation and performance of children with IEPs on statewide assessments:

A. Percent of the districts with a disability subgroup that meets the State’s minimum “n” size that meet the State’s AYP targets for the disability subgroup.

B. Participation rate for children with IEPs.

C. Proficiency rate for children with IEPs against grade level, modified and alternate academic achievement standards. [20 U.S.C. 1416 (a)(3)(A)]


These, then, are the data that States must compile and report to OSEP in keeping with its monitoring and supervision activities regarding the extent to which students with IEPs participate in statewide assessment programs and how they perform.

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Resources to Support Data Gathering for Indicator 3

Guidance documents on Indicator 3.

How are we doing?
What’s the current status on improving participation and performance of students with IEPs in statewide assessments? What are the data telling us? Read this summary from 2011.

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Resources to Support Student Participation in Large-Scale Assessments

What are these different types of assessments mentioned in the indicator?
Visit NICHCY’s webpage on Accommodations in Assessment for a summary of the types of assessment this indicator mentions.

There’s a National Center on Assessment for Children with Disabilities.
The National Center on Educational Outcomes conducts research and provides information on the participation of students with disabilities in national and state assessments, standards-setting efforts, and graduation requirements.

Need to improve your system’s accountability system?
The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center (AACC) provides a set of resources to help states, districts, and schools improve their accountability systems.

Find out all about alternative assessments.
The National Alternate Assessment Center (NAAC) was created to act as a repository of technically sound alternate assessments, to demonstrate through selected partner states high quality design and administration of all types of alternate assessments, and to provide technical assistance and dissemination of information on alternate assessments.

Teacher quality impacts everything.
The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), and its Center on Teacher Quality project are funded to work with states on developing models for improving the preparation, licensing, and professional development for both general and special education teachers of students with disabilities.

More resources on teacher quality…
The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders is where the regional comprehensive assistance centers, states, and other education stakeholders turn for resources on strengthening the quality of teaching for students with disabilities—especially in high-poverty, low-performing, and hard-to-staff schools.

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to