Autism2Ability includes a number of features designed to assist professionals in readily providing educational supports and services to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first feature highlight is directed at required academic content and achievement standards and details how Autism2Ability has streamlined the process for you. Other features will be highlighted in the coming weeks.
App2Talk application offers three ability levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. A user can start the communication application at any ability level and progress to a more advanced level as his/her communication skills improve.
In addition, each ability level can be customized to accommodate the user’s individual needs. Introducing ability levels makes App2Talk an even better choice for parents, teachers, and caregivers of those who are nonverbal and/or struggle with communication. Another feature of the app that will provide valuable information is the tracking system with progress monitor.
Upcoming Innovations for Learn
Feature Highlight 1:
Academic Content and Achievement Standards
As a professional, you are aware that state departments of education are required to provide challenging academic content standards (i.e., what students need to know) in reading/language arts, math, and science. Many states have content standards in other academic areas as well. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires these standards to be the same for all schools and all students in each state.
In addition, state departments of education are required to provide alternate academic achievement standards and permitted to provide modified academic achievement standards for students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Academic achievement standards spell out how well students need to know the academic content standards.
Alternative academic achievement (AAA) standards are intended for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. These standards are based on the grade-level content covered by the general assessment, but at reduced depth, breadth, and complexity.
Modified academic achievement (MAA) standards are intended for students with disabilities who are working on grade-level content, but whose disabilities may result in their needing more time to master the content. These standards are based on grade-level content, but are less difficult than grade-level achievement standards.
State-specific alternative and modified academic achievement standards are required to align with state general education academic content standards, describe at least three levels of achievement (i.e., advanced, proficient, and basic), and include descriptions of the competencies associated with each achievement level.
In addition, states are required to align alternative and modified academic achievement standards with alternative assessments. States have, however, been given flexibility in how to meet alternative assessment requirements. As a result, states have created state-specific policies and procedures for alternative assessments.
Professionals are now required to meet federal and state requirements when providing services and supports with alternative and/or modified academic achievement standards and associated assessments. Professionals have reported that requirements can be labor intensive, taking time away from service provision. Examples include:
- The teacher must now provide instruction for each standard on at least three levels of achievement at varying grade levels,
- Lessons plans related to standards (at each level) are left to the individual teacher to design and implement, and
- Multiple sources of evidence of mastery for each standard must be submitted.
Autism2Ability assists professionals in meeting the requirements for alternative and/or modified AAA standards and assessments as:
- Alternative and modified standards are clearly identified for each lesson by state and grade-level,
- Levels of achievement (whether advanced, proficient, or basic) are clearly identified for each lesson,
- A variety of lesson formats are available for each standard, and
- Lessons often address standards from more than one content area (e.g., Reading and Math).
In addition, the Autism2Ability curriculum addresses non-academic skills (e.g., self-regulation) as outlined in the National Autism Center’s Standards Report (2009) at different levels.
The initial feedback that we received from professionals expressed their appreciation for the “time” that the Autism2Ability curriculum will give back to them. Time gained can now be used to provide services and supports without the constant concern over meeting extensive paperwork requirements.
Snapshot: State Comparison
States were given flexibility in how to meet federal requirements for alternative and modified academic achievement standards and assessments and so have created state-specific (a) academic content and achievement standards, and (b) policies and procedures for implementing the aforementioned. The table below profiles Alabama and Michigan as related to alternate academic achievement assessments for evaluating mastery of alternate standards.
The Alabama State Department of Education provides extended standards that serve as alternative academic achievement (AAA) standards for grades K-12 in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies. There are also associated alternative academic achievement (AAA) assessments based on the extended standards. However Alabama does not provide modified academic achievement standards.
The Michigan State Department of Education provides alternative and modified academic achievement standards for grades K-12. There are also associated alternative academic achievement (AAA) assessments based on the standards. Those associated with the alternative academic achievement standards are detailed in the table below.
Alternative Academic Achievement (AAA) Assessment
|Content areas assessed||Reading/language arts|
|Grades Assessed||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11|
|Assessment Approaches||Portfolio/body of evidence||Multiple choice/ constructed response|
|Time Frame for Administration||More than 2 months||More than 1 month to 2 months|
|Person Administering Assessment||Student’s special education teacher||Student’s special education or a certified teacher who is not the student’s teacher|
|Procedures||State provides instructions on types and amounts of evidence to be collected||State requires standardized tasks/test items/rating scales|
|Work Submitted||Student work samples only||No student work samples|
|Administration||As part of day-to-day student instruction||Separately from student’s daily work|
|Scoring of Assessment||State or state-contracted scorer||Machine scored|
|Provides NCLB-required Proficiency Levels for Standards||Yes||Yes|
Cameto, R., Knokey, A. M., Nagle, K., Sanford, C., Blackorby, J., Sinclair, B., and Riley, D. (2009). State profiles on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. A report from the national study on alternate assessments (NCSER 2009-3013). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
This example is taken from the Alabama Extended Standards for Mathematics.
General Education Course of Study Mathematics Standard 4.5:
- Round whole numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, or thousand and decimals to the nearest tenth.
Extended Standard M. ES 4.3:
- Determine place value for ones, tens, and hundreds.
ES Level of
Minimum Evidence per Standard
|Identify and use place value for 1’s, 10’s and 100’s||3 pieces of evidence of identifying and using 1’s, 10’s, and 100’s per piece of evidence|
|Determine place value for 1’s, 10’s and 100’s||3 pieces of evidence determining place value for 1’s, 10’s and 100’s across the pieces of evidence|
|Determine place value for 1’s and 10’s||3 pieces of evidence determining place value of 1’s and 10’s|
|Respond purposefully to regrouping ten 1’s as 10||3 pieces of evidence with responding purposefully|
Autism2Ability, then, provides 20 lessons for Alabama extended standard M. ES 4.3 (i.e., determining place value for ones, tens, and hundreds). Alabama professionals will have choices among five lessons in five different formats for each level of complexity in the standard. As Alabama professionals are required to provide three pieces of evidence to establish mastery of the standard at a specific level of complexity, it becomes clear that simply printing the completed lesson readout will provide the evidence needed for submission.