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Education Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 952704, 12 pages
Research Article

Test Accessibility: Item Reviews and Lessons Learned from Four State Assessments

1Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN 37204, USA
2Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2111, USA
3Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

Received 17 February 2013; Revised 24 April 2013; Accepted 27 April 2013

Academic Editor: Huy P. Phan

Copyright © 2013 Peter A. Beddow et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The push toward universally designed assessments has influenced several states to modify items from their general achievement tests to improve their accessibility for all test takers. The current study involved the review of 159 items used by one state across four content areas including science, coupled with the review of 261 science items in three other states. The item reviews were conducted using the Accessibility Rating Matrix (Beddow et al. 2009), a tool for systematically identifying access barriers in test items, and for facilitating the subsequent modification process. The design allowed for within-state comparisons across several variables for one state and for within-content area (i.e., science) comparisons across states. Findings indicated that few items were optimally accessible and ratings were consistent across content areas, states, grade bands, and item types. Suggestions for modifying items are discussed and recommendations are offered to guide the development of optimally accessible test items.