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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Take the Guessing Out of Standardized Testing Accommodations

     As many high school juniors gear up for their first experiences with the SAT or ACT this spring, those with a diagnosed learning disability and/or ADHD should be reminded to request the proper testing accommodations well in advance of the test dates.  Many students are either unaware that such an option exists for them, or they are so daunted by the application process that they forego this very important step.  While many colleges have, in recent years, decided to allow students to apply for admission without submitting these test results, the reality is that the vast majority of post-secondary institutions require them and will likely continue to do so.  

Key Requirements When Pursuing Testing Accommodations:
To make this process smoother to navigate, it's important to keep the following in mind:

·       The administrators of both the SATs and ACTs want to see a history of a student using the requested accommodations in school.  It can be very challenging, for example, for students who have never requested and used an accommodation of extended time to suddenly be granted it for their standardized tests.

·       Make sure your documentation is in order.  The College Board (SATs) requires testing in the form of an IEP, 504 Plan or private psycho-education evaluation conducted within five years of the test.  The ACT people require such documentation to be no older than three years from the date of testing. 

·       The documentation should include a clear diagnosis and functional limitations.  In other words, how does the student's disability impact his/her ability to perform academically?

·       The documentation should include specific recommendations for accommodations.  This is especially important in the case of extended time, where the request is made for either time and a half or double time.

·       The testing should describe what tests were used to determine the student's diagnosis.

·       The evaluation must be performed by someone with the appropriate professional credentials.
What Are Some Common Testing Accommodations? 
It is also important to understand what testing accommodations are available.  Students who qualify may be able to obtain the use of a reader, scribe or computer for the tests.  Extra and extended breaks, small group testing, preferential seating and taking the test over two separate days are also commonly requested accommodations by students with the appropriate diagnoses.  

Where Can I Find Further Information?
     Further information regarding standardized testing accommodations may be found at www.collegeboard.org and www.actstudent.org.

            Remember, standardized testing is just one piece of the puzzle when looking for your ideal college.  Above all, students should always seek institutions of higher education that value their interests and talents.
Best of luck,  Kristen
Kristen Tabun
Director of College Guidance
Woodlynde School
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