- What We Do
- Prospective Students
- Current Students
- Professional Development
- Professional Resources
- News and Events
- Staff Directory
This letter is in response to efforts to create state laws that can have a profound impact on the determination of learning and literacy media of children with visual impairments, including those with additional exceptionalities.
We the undersigned educators, university personnel, and stakeholders support:
We the undersigned, feel compelled to alert families and educators to the intent of legislation that has been adopted in Mississippi and proposed in Missouri and Virginia that leads to the use of a single and specific assessment, the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) as described by Bell, Ewell, and Mino (2013).
Our intent is to ensure that any assessment of a child’s learning media meets the criteria outlined in the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI; Lusk, Lawson & McCarthy, 2013) position paper, Literacy Decisions for Students with Visual Impairments. To date, the NRMA is the only learning media assessment that claims to be research-based, data-driven, and validated (Bell, Ewell, and Mino, 2013). However, as we discuss below, the NRMA does not meet professionally accepted criteria for validation and is lacking important characteristics required to support the designation research-based.
Redundancy of state laws: Evidence-based assessment is already mandated by Federal Law.
The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (Public Law 108- 446), emphasizes the use of evidenced-based assessments. While stakeholders in the education of children with visual impairments are committed to the use of evidence-based assessments, to date, there are no learning media assessments for children with visual impairments that both (a) meet academically accepted and rigorous statistical tests of validity and reliability and (b) comply with assurances for individualized accommodations.
Challenges to claims that a learning media assessment has established both reliability and validity for children with visual impairments.
Bell, Ewell, and Mino (2013) have stated that the NRMA has both reliability and validity for students with visual impairments. To this claim we offer the following objections:
Concerns about the compliance with IDEA’s provisions for fair and appropriate assessment.
When children are assessed with the NRMA, teachers are given instructions counter to the provisions of IDEA (which mandates that children receive their IEP or 504 accommodations when taking tests). According the NRMA Quick Start Guide the assessment is to be administered under standardized conditions of “18-point font, normal lighting, and good posture” to ensure “that the assessment results will provide the student’s educational team with the information they need to make crucial decisions about the child’s educational needs” (NRMA Quick Start Guide, “The Importance of Standardized Conditions”, paragraph 1).
Essentially, this means that children taking the NRMA are being assessed for their print reading efficiency, without being permitted to use their classroom and testing accommodations. They are not allowed to:
These instructions to deny students’ accommodations are counter to best practices in the field and are counter to the assurances provided by IDEA for fair assessment.
It is for these reasons that we encourage families and teachers to advocate for fair and appropriate assessment of all children with visual impairments by:
With your support we will ask AERBVI to clarify the appropriate and effective practices assessing the learning media of children with blindness or visual impairments.
We will also share this letter and encourage everyone to share this letter with other stakeholders invested in the education and assessment of children with visual impairments, including those with additional exceptionalities to ensure these organizations are aware of the legislative issues discussed herein. These stakeholders include: the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), American Council of the Blind (ACB), and Council for Exceptional Children Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness (CEC-DVI/DB), Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSSB), and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). We will ask for their support in promoting the use of multiple appropriate assessments to determine the most effective learning media for individual students who are blind or visually impaired.
We will also ask these organizations to share our joint concerns with state law makers and help legislators understand the dangers of limiting the tools available to teachers in their evaluation of the literacy needs of the complex and heterogeneous population of children who are identified as having blindness or visual impairment.
If you and/or your organization is in support of this position as discussed above, please input your name, organization name, position/title, contact information, and any other commentary by June 30, 2016 on the following Google Form: Support Signatures for LMA Letter (http://goo.gl/forms/Kw7MjuzTo6A1j0ha2).
The letter can also be viewed in the following Google Drive Folder: LMA Assessment Position Letter 2016 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByK-cMd0P8XjSkRhdGYwZnRjVm8).
Please email any questions or concerns to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include in the Subject Line: LMA Assessment Position Letter Questions/Concerns
LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee:
Olaya Landa-Vialard, Ph.D., TVI, Bilingual Educational Diagnostician Assistant Professor of Low Vision and Blindness
Illinois State University email@example.com
Chair, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Kathryn D Botsford, Ph.D., TVI, COMS, NBPTS: ENECYA-VI
Assistant Research Professor Visually Impaired Learner Program Portland State University
Co-Chair, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Kimberly Avila, Ph.D., TVI, COMS Assistant Professor/Coordinator
Virginia Consortium for Teacher Preparation in Vision Impairment Member, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Anne L. Corn, Ed.D.
Research Professor (Volunteer), Department Of Ophthalmology, University of Cincinnati
Professor Emerita, Departments of Special Education, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University Member, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Holly M. Lawson, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Visually Impaired Learner Program Portland State University
Member, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Sandra Lewis, Ed.D. Coordinator and Professor Visual Disabilities Program Florida State University firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Tessa McCarthy, Ph.D., TVI, COMS
Assistant Professor/Coordinator of the Vision Studies Program University of Pittsburgh
Member, LMA Assessment Position Letter Committee
Bell, E. C., Ewell, J. V., & Mino, N. M. (2013). National reading media assessment: Complete report. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 3(2). Retrieved from https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/jbir/jbir13/jbir030201abs.html. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5241/2F3-37
Castellano, C. (2013). The National Reading Media Assessment. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/fr/fr32/1/fr320102.htm
Erin, J., & Koenig, A. (1997). The student with a visual disability and a learning disability.
Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(3), 309-320. http://ldx.sagepub.com/content/30/3/309.full.pdf+html
Heller, K. W., D’Andrea, F. M., & Forney, P. E. (1998). Determining reading and writing media for individuals with visual and physical impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 92(3), 162-175.
Holbrook, M. C. (2009). Supporting students’ literacy through data-driven decision-making and ongoing assessment of achievement. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 103(3), 133-136.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. Public Law 108- 446 (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.)
Koenig, A. J. & Holbrook, M. C. (1995). Learning Media Assessment for Students with Visual Impairments: A Resource Guide for Teachers. Austin: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Lusk, K. E., & Corn, A. L. (2006). Learning and using print and braille: A study of dual-media learners, part 1. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 100(10). Retrieved from https://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubjvib.asp?DocID=jvib001007
Lusk, K., Lawson, H., & McCarthy, T. (2013). Literacy media for students with visual impairments: A position paper of the association for education and rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired. Retrieved from http://tech.aph.org/cvi/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/LITERACY-MEDIA-DECISIONS-FOR-STUDENTS-WITH-VISUAL-IMPAIRMENTS.pdf
McKenzie, A. R. (2007). The use of learning media assessments with students who are deaf-blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 101(10), 587-600.
McKenzie, A.R. (2009). Practice report: Unique considerations for assessing the learning media of students who are deaf-blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 103(4), 241-245.
Mississippi House Bill No. 0960 Section A 037-0023-0193. Retrieved from http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2012/pdf/history/HB/HB0960.xml
Missouri House Bill No. 2569 Section A 167.225. Retrieved from http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills161/billpdf/intro/HB2569I.PDF and http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB2569
Musgrove, M., & Yudin, M. K., (June 19, 2013). OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Braille. Retrieved November 21, 2014. from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCcQFjAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww2.ed.gov%2Fpolicy%2Fspeced%2Fguid%2Fidea%2Fmemosdcltrs%2Fbrailledcl-6-19-13.doc&ei=KM5vVJf9DZGaigK8xIDABQ&usg=AFQjCNHLo6cd4Kqec0_g3eHgKIBJS_LuAA&bvm=bv.80185997,d.cGE
National Federation of the Blind (n.d.). NRMA: National Reading Media Assessment quick start guide. Retrieved June 5, 2016 from https://www.nfbnrma.org/admin/users/nrma-quick-start-guide-accessible.pdf
Virginia HB 166. Retrieved May 8, 2016 from http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB166
Virginia SB 291 Retrieved June 13, 2016 from https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+ful+SB291+pdf
Virginia HB 228. Retrieved June 13, 2016 from https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+ful+HB228