Principled Science Assessment Design
for Students with Disabilities

advancing assessment design through universal design for learning
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What is Principled Assessment Design?
The PADI project was precursor to the Principled Science Assessment Design for Students with Disabilities (PADI-SE) project. The precursor PADI project provided a practical, theory-based approach to developing quality assessments of science inquiry by combining developments in cognitive psychology and research on science inquiry with advances in measurement theory and technology.

What is Universal Design for Learning?
Universal design for learning (UDL) is an idea that emerged from accessibility efforts to remove barriers. UDL generally seeks to make educational materials and assessments as accessible as possible to the widest variety of people while seeking to minimize separate-but-equal situations. For example, a ramp that leads to a back-door entry to a building might provide access, but it also may stigmatize those who use that entry. Universal design strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that helps everyone, not just people with disabilities. For example, large, soft handles may assist people with gripping limitations, but at the same time, companies that introduce larger, easy-to-grip handles as a feature of utensils may find that such handles appeal to a wide range of consumers because the handles are universally easier to grasp.

How is Universal Design Applied in PADI-SE?
The PADI-SE project aims to improve the design of assessments by identifying any and all assumptions and expectations of assessments that are distinct from the key objectives of measurement. For example, a written test of math seeks to test math skills, but the reading sections of a timed, paper test may cause difficulty for some populations even if those examinees have all the math skills in question. By systematically identifying and mitigating such "Additional Knowledge, Skills or Abilities" (Additional KSAs) that are distinct from the objectives of measurement (Focal KSAs), PADI-SE attempts to improve the design of assessments in general.
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Additional Resources

Example Design Pattern [PDF]

PADI Assessment Webinar: Fundamentals of Evidence-Centered Design in Assessment

Circles of Expertise

PADI-SE brings together research expertise from several outstanding educational organizations:

  1. SRI International
  2. University of Maryland
  3. CAST
  4. and the Departments of Education of four U.S. states: Kansas Kentucky Nevada South Carolina

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This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Education under Grant No. R324A070035. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.

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