Accessibility in Assessments

Accessibility and Inclusivity in Assessments


What It Is


Assessments are used to evaluate knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSA) in the classroom. Accessible assessments aim to increase equity through the way KSA are tested (methodology) and the way the assessment content is conveyed to the students (e.g., clarity of questions). 

Why It Matters

Providing accessible and inclusive assessments reduces comprehension barriers. Using a variety of assessment types gives learners the opportunity to demonstrate learning through multiple pathways resulting in a more comprehensive analysis of the KSA gained in a course. If not mindful of the types of assessments employed, instructors can limit learning demonstration, favor certain ways of learning, or benefit certain cultural backgrounds.

Apply It 

1. Avoid assumed background knowledge. When writing exams, keep in mind learners have different lived experiences. Assessments should evaluate specific skills and reduce assessment barriers. Avoid cultural phrases, idioms, or assumed knowledge irrelevant to the skills and knowledge being assessed. Consider public exams or allow learners to ask clarifying questions on wording during assessments.

2. Provide assessment options. Give learners choice in how they demonstrate their understanding, knowledge, and skills by providing 4-5 different methods of assessment (e.g., an essay, presentation, video, podcast, or poster). Assessment choice aligns with Universal Design for Learning and encourages all learners to demonstrate what they know. 

3. Use transparent assignment design. The Transparency in Teaching and Learning (TILT) framework explicitly states the purpose, skills, knowledge, task, and success criteria for each assessment. This framework promotes equitable opportunities for learners to be successful. 

4. Welcome feedback and listen. Give learners the space to ask questions and provide comments about wording and structure before, during, and after an assessment. This can prevent language or question type from becoming a barrier for learners to demonstrate what they know. 




Montenegro, Erick and Jankowsk, Natasha A. (2017). Equity and Assessment: Moving Towards Culturally Responsive Assessment. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Roelofs, Erik. (2019). A Framework for Improving the Accessibility of Assessment Tasks. 10.1007/978-3-030-18480-3_2.

Cite This Resource

Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. (2023, October). Accessibilty and Inclusivity in Assessment  [Teaching resource].

 Updated 10/2023