PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF version

On June 26, 2013, the PARCC Governing Board approved the policies in the first edition of the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual. The manual will undergo a number of iterations, as data on student performance is collected during PARCC item development research (being conducted this spring and summer), field testing in spring 2014, and the first operational year of administration in school year 2014-2015.  This iterative process will ensure that the accommodations students receive on the PARCC assessments provide a valid reflection of what they know and can do, and do not alter the construct of what is being assessed.

PARCC is committed to providing all students with access to high-quality assessments. For the assessment system as a whole, PARCC is committed to ensuring that all participating students, including students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities, are able to engage in a meaningful and appropriate manner so valid results can be obtained for all students. Through a combination of universal design principles and computer-embedded features, PARCC is designing an assessment system that is inclusive of all students – from initial design through implementation.

The second edition of the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual is a comprehensive policy document that provides guidance to districts and decision-making teams to ensure that the PARCC Mid-Year, Performance-Based, and End-of-Year Assessments provide valid results for all participating students.

The majority of the proposed accommodations policies are currently in use across PARCC states.  What is different from many current state accommodations manuals, however, is that the PARCC manual includes not only proposed participation and accommodations policies for students with disabilities and English learners, but also information about accessibility features that will be provided through PARCC’s computer-based assessment delivery system for all students to optimize their performance on the assessments.

By assessing students on computer devices, PARCC states will now have the opportunity to provide all students with tools they frequently use in the classroom and daily life (e.g. highlighters and enlarged font) that were once provided only as accommodations for students with disabilities and English learners. 

The manual details three ways in which PARCC’s computer-delivered assessments are designed to provide students with increased access to the assessments:

  • Features for All Students: Features for all students, which will be embedded through the PARCC online delivery platform, or part of the PARCC assessment administration.
  • Accessibility Features for All Students (identified in advance): Features available to all students but provided to students who have a need identified ahead of the PARCC assessment.
  • Accommodations: Supports for students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities that increase access while maintaining a valid and reliable score.

Here are the links to the second edition of the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual and the supporting implementation materials:

**NEW** Field Test Guidance


Communications Resources


Additional Resources


Development Process

The first edition of the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual was developed and reviewed over the past year through an iterative process involving the following groups of PARCC stakeholders:

  • State experts serving on the PARCC Accommodations, Accessibility, and Fairness Operational Working Group;
  • K-12 PARCC State Leads;
  • Additional state agency experts (including special education, English learner, and content area experts);
  • External experts, including representatives from the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), and the PARCC Technical Working Groups on Equity, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities;
  • National advocacy groups for students with disabilities, English learners, and equity and fairness; and
  • Staff from PARCC’s project management partner Achieve, Inc.

PARCC released accessibility and accommodations policies for public comment on three separate occasions over the course of five months. Reviews included the following:

  • Reading access and calculator accommodations (January 2013)
  • Writing access accommodations (February 2013)
  • Full draft PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (April-May 2013)

During the three public review periods, PARCC received more than 4,000 individual survey responses and approximately 40 pieces of written feedback from national organizations representing students with disabilities, English learners, and equitable access. Each piece of feedback was read and reviewed carefully by state representatives on the PARCC Accessibility, Accommodations, and Fairness Operational Working Group, as well as its supporting project management team at Achieve Inc. Throughout the development process, PARCC also conducted several dozen small group and one-on-one meetings with national and state organizations that have provided written feedback during the comment periods.  For more information on the themes from the feedback, please refer to slides 22-23 in the PowerPoint Presentation found above.

Careers Staff Contact

Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

1400 16th Street NW, Suite 510
Washington, Dc 20036
Phone 202.745.2311 Fax 202.828.0911
Email: Questions@PARCConline.Org