Testing Accommodations for the ACT, SAT, PSAT, or AP exams
<![CDATA[Recently I presented information on testing accommodations on a Facebook live recording. If you or someone you know has a student who needs or already received extra time or test modifications at school, you will want to learn more about getting appropriate accommodations on the ACT, SAT / PSAT or Advanced Placement exams. Sometimes I don’t want to watch an entire video, so for those of you who want a quick summary, here are some of my notes. I’m going to explain
- who gets extended time & why
- what you need to do to apply
- the review process
- questions you should consider before applying for accommodations
- resources for further questions
Who gets extended time & whyStudents who have proven mental or physical needs. Sometimes we think of the common needs for ADD / ADHD or anxiety, but there are many students who need some test accommodations:
- arthritis—couldn’t bubble answers
- narcoleptic – extended time in case she dozed off for a few moments during the test.
- more severe brain / processing issues – up to 3X regular time with a reader
- insulin pump diabetics—extra time to monitor blood sugar, go to the bathroom, and have snacks as needed
- students with written expression issues may be allowed to use a computer to type essays
- Not really an advantage– ADD / ADHD extra time is a blessing and a curse.
- Time & a half takes a four hour exam and makes it a SIX hour ordeal
- 2x & 3x time can break the test up into multiple days—twice the stress
- I think we all agree it is better to have a hard time with the SAT or ACT and NOT have a traumatic brain injury, narcolepsy, etc.
What you need to do to applyApplications for testing accommodations should originate from your school. Why?
- Faster—counselor, head of school, case manager, or testing coordinator can submit electronically, substantially reducing processing time
- Reduces the chance of needing additional documentation—schools have a process
- Less hassle—let the professionals do their jobs.
- What is the need? Is there a diagnosed disability?
- Does the need justify testing accommodations? (Not all conditions require testing accommodations. I might have a missing leg, but unless I can show how that justifies changes in my testing…)
- Does the student receive these accommodations at school? Is there an IEP or 504 currently in place with these accommodations listed?– This is a big point.
- Does the student currently USE the requested modifications at school?
- Documentation supporting the request—current, clear statement of diagnosis and how it presents a functional limitation, specific accommodations and why they are justified, professional qualifications of the evaluator, any “testing” (neuropsychological or psychoeducational) done to come to these conclusions
- VALID — not result in an undue burden, as that term is used under the ADA, or fundamentally alter that which the test is designed to measure.
The Review ProcessStandard review takes 6-8 weeks. It can be more at busy times of the year or if you are asked to submit additional supporting documentation. In general, your request will walk through these steps:
- initiate with your school – follow up to make sure request has been submitted
- ACT / College Board receives your request and may ask for additional information
- Request is reviewed and decision is made
- Notification of approval (or not) and which accommodations
- If denied, why and an opportunity to appeal – Neighbor was denied by ACT 3-4 years ago because all of their documentation was outdated—from elementary school. Had to decide if it was worth it to appeal
Questions you should consider before applying for accommodations
- Is my child currently receiving accommodations? And are they helping?
- Will accommodations help or hurt? (used for good or evil)
- Will the student actually USE testing accommodations if granted?
- What other choices do we have?