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Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems Braille Reading Assessment: An Exploratory Study
Abstract: Structured abstract: Introduction: This exploratory study determined whether transcribing selected test items on an adult life and work skills reading test into braille could maintain the same approximate scale-score range and maintain fitness within the item response theory model as used by the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) for developing tests. Methods: In concert with a focus group of practitioners, CASAS and the American Printing House for the Blind selected 25 test items in a life and work context that were previously field-tested with approximately 30,000 sighted adult education students. These test items were adapted for a contracted braille format. Both qualitative data and statistical data were collected during and after the braille reading test was field-tested. Results: Sixty-five youths and adults, about 50% of whom were aged 18 or younger, participated in the field testing of the CASAS braille reading test between September 2005 and April 2007. The scale-score range for the braille test was slightly lower than for a similar version in the print format. No significant difference was found between the adults who were visually impaired (those who were blind or had low vision--braille readers) who took the braille test and the sighted adults who took a print version of the brailled test items. Discussion: Valuable suggestions for constructing and administering braille tests were made as a result of the study. New braille assessments will incorporate refreshable braille displays to allow test takers to gain better access to more information and the computing environment. Implications for practitioners: The results support the value of customizing a reading test in a braille format to ensure realistic tasks in the lives and work of adult students who are visually impaired. Hard-copy braille will remain important in future standardized assessments, as will options that offer computer delivery with universal design features.
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