Supporting students with disability engage in assessment in inclusive education: A case study in secondary education.

Year: 2019

Author: Medhurst, Marijne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Inclusive education is a right for all students, as outlined in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD; 2006). Australia, a signatory on the CRPD, frames inclusive education through the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth). Teachers need to make reasonable adjustments to, for example, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to allow students with disability access on the same basis as their peers. Despite these requirements, several reports (e.g., Deloitte Access Economics, 2017; Urbis, 2015) have shown that adjustments for students with disability are not sufficiently made and that students with disability underachieve compared to their peers. In addition, there is very limited evidence of how teachers support students with disability engage in classroom assessment. The current study addressed this gap in research by using a case study design to investigate how a Year 7 English teacher and a Year 7 mathematics teachers supported three students with disability engage in Assessment for Learning and (summative) classroom assessment. By analysing survey and interview data, as well as video-recorded classroom observations and artefacts, such as assessment tasks and supporting materials, the study highlighted the importance of an established community of practice consisting of classroom teachers, support staff, students and parents. Analyses showed that, while the focus students passed both assessments, in-class support was obstructed by a lack of communication and collaboration between classroom teachers and support staff. In addition, and as a consequence of this, summative assessment tasks and supporting materials were not appropriately accessible to students. These two factors presented barriers to students and impacted on their opportunity to optimally demonstrate their learning and access education, including assessment, on the same basis as their peers. Further research is necessary to examine how classroom teachers and support staff can collaborate to further students’ learning. In addition, future research is warranted to investigate the nature of teachers’ knowledge on accessible pedagogic and assessment practice, so gaps in knowledge can be addressed through professional development and pre-service training.