Can Universal Design for Learning Promote Assessment Fairness & Equity?
Tuesday, July 27, 2:00 – 4:00 pm ET
In the first installment of our panel discussion series, the UDL-IRN Assessment & Measurement SIG will engage with a panel of measurement experts to discuss opportunities and challenges at the intersection of Universal Design for Learning and assessment. Panelists will grapple with questions such as, “What does UDL offer for improving assessment fairness and equity?” “Are there validity trade-offs in creating assessments that truly leverage UDL principles?” and “How can the measurement, instruction, and UDL research communities work together to create instruments that meet the needs of a broad range of education stakeholders, including students?” Join us for an engaging discussion with these experts!
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was created to support the development of educational standards, instruction, materials, and assessments. However, UDL research on and application to summative and formative assessment has remained limited. We believe that an international forum of multiple stakeholders—including educators—can collectively define effective implementation and research opportunities to establish the role of UDL in improving assessment and measurement based on the following assertions:
- Assessment remains a divisive tool that entrenches systemic barriers to equitable learning and outcomes. UDL has great potential to increase awareness and provide guidance on how to improve the design, administration, scoring, and use of assessments to remove bias against all groups, particularly BIPOC, non-native language learners, and people with disabilities;
- UDL provides an essential framework as the assessment community identifies new methods to increase student engagement and agency before, during, and after assessment; and
- The movement to digital based assessments has created the opportunity to leverage new data sources and methodologies to measure deeper constructs as well as student engagement during assessments. UDL-based approaches would support more rigorous evidence of validity and fairness and allow for better substantiation of claims about student knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as improve measurement of factors necessary to validate UDL efficacy in learning.
Our mission is to support collaborative research on the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in improving assessment and measurement of diverse learners, effective application of UDL principles during assessment design, and development of new measures to evaluate the impact of UDL on student learning.
The UDL-IRN Assessment & Measurement SIG envisions all education stakeholders understanding, creating, and having access to high quality assessment and measurement tools and practices that support effective summative and formative purposes, and that accurately and fairly reflect diverse learners.
- Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity
- Scientific Rigor
Why it is Important
The application of universal design and UDL principles to assessment is gaining increased interest both in the United States and internationally, despite lack of clarity of what this entails. The co-sponsors of this SIG, who have been involved in worldwide implementation and research activities, believe there would be significant commitment from stakeholders ranging from classroom teachers to testing professionals to collaborate on research to evaluate the impact of different design features on engagement, fairness, and validity and consider how to implement UDL-based assessment for both summative and formative purposes, and how to measure non-academic factors impacting assessment performance, such as engagement and self-regulated learning.
Additional impetus for this group and our work is the renewed interest in and commitment to equity in education. Despite best efforts, assessment often ends up perpetuating inequities, in terms of the constructs that are assessed, the way they are assessed, and the way those scores are interpreted and used. Better applications of UDL to assessment design has great potential to mitigate these issues and ultimately make assessment more engaging, valuable, and fair for a variety of users, including examinees themselves.
We further believe that measurement expertise and assessment knowledge are critical perspectives to ensure that new ideas of infusing equity more fully into UDL as applied to learning will stand up to challenges to the evidence basis of UDL. Our community can provide insights into new forms of measurement of engagement (process data), synthesize research findings, and propose new models for communicating levels of efficacy and rigour of research backing.