Testing & Accommodations – I didn’t mean to vent!

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DR was upset over difficulties getting accommodations on testing for her daughter. She asks:

girl teen reading outsideCan you tell me how to deal with the school system about testing and accommodations?

My daughter is a junior with dyslexia and will soon be taking her 1st SAT.

I have continually asked about scheduling her re-exams for the last 2 years. The answer is always the same, “Don’t worry, we have plenty of time.” There’s always a big back log and kids who do poorly will probably be tested first! It doesn’t matter that my kid busts her butt & stays up all hours to make a 3.35 GPA and takes Advanced & Honors classes because she wants a good education!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to vent.

To be considered for accommodations for college placement exams, students should be tested for disabilities and fall within a 4 year grace period prior to taking college boards.

My daughter will not have her needs met for her PSAT in 3 weeks and by the looks of things she won’t have them later for SATs either!

We all need to vent sometimes. But take a step back, calm down, don’t do it with the school.

Dealing with Schools

Have you been writing short polite letters that document what the school people are telling you, to express your concerns, to ask when XYZ will happen, to make requests for services and/or evaluations?

(If you have our Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy book, you will find sample letters in the two chapters about letter writing).

Writing letters to document these issues is extremely important for several reasons.

  • First, writing letters that document what the school agreed to do makes it far more likely that they will do it. Your request / concern won’t fall off the radar screen. Many parents find that when they begin to put their concerns and requests in writing, things begin to move in a more positive direction and obstacles disappear. School people are dealing with scores of kids and their families every day – they often forget what they agreed to do unless it is in writing.
  • Second, when you put your concerns and requests in writing, you are creating a paper trail in the event that you have to go up the administrative chain of command, file a complaint, etc. Your letters should be polite and succinct. (again, see the sample letters in the book)
  • Third, you can use letters to make friends and thank people for their help. This makes it far more likely that they will help your daughter later, when she needs their help again.

Taking the right steps is more important than acting quickly because you are feeling a sense of urgency.

Help! Crisis Management

Sounds like from your tone you are getting close to a crisis point.

Before you do anything else, read Crisis Management – Step by step. https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Crisis.html

When I was in your shoes when my daughter was in high school, I got a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation of her from an expert in adolescent psychology in the private sector.

Look for an evaluator who has expertise in language learning disabilities like dyslexia. It is unlikely that you will find an evaluator with this expertise working in the public school system.

Comprehensive Evaluation

Your daughter needs a good comprehensive evaluation for several reasons (and it may need to be more recent than 4 years old). The evaluation will be a roadmap as she makes decisions about her future (in addition to getting accommodations on testing now).

To find an evaluators with this expertise, look at your State Yellow Pages for Kids www.yellowpagesforkids.com

Also, contact the International Dyslexia Association or your state branch of IDA for their recommended evaluators in your area. www.eida.org

Most dyslexics are extremely bright and hard working.

They internalize their feelings about learning differently. This can cause big problems but that’s another issue.

-Pam

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patty

My son is in college at SJSU in Calif. He was in the DSP at his former college (disabled students program). He is taking a timed test for the 2nd time and would like to have more time to finish the test, but they said he needs to be retested again to see if he qualifies for the “special ed” program. He has ADD and just wants more time to complete the test he needs to take. Is there an age when the 504 plan expires? (age wise?). He really does not want to be tested again. Aren’t there laws to protect these kids in college? He was 2 points away from passing the test last time, and just needs more time to complete test. Thank you

SusanB

Faye, collegeboard.com has all the info needed to determine how to go about getting accommodations on SAT and PSAT. This would be the first place I would go. They have an entire page dedicated to testing of students with disabilities.

http://www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student/index.html#apply

Renee

UNCLEAR ABOUT ACCOMMODATIONS REQUEST DEADLINE

This type of situation is disappointing and frustrating. The PSAT taken as a sophomore a practice test. This does not preclude your child from taking it next year and qualifying for National Merit consideration.

You can write a letter to the counseling department and whoever in in charge of 504 oversight to suggest they have a better system for informing parents and students of the details and deadlines for requesting accommodations for all these tests. If your child had an IEP, you would include the special education department.

There are other ways to practice with the format and content of the SAT, which may be worth looking into if you are concerned about familiarity with the structure.

Faye

My son is a sophomore in High School and has hearing loss. He has a 504 Plan. He takes honors and AP classes. He was ‘invited’ to take the PSAT as a Sophomore because he is in the top 20 % of his class. The test is on Oct 16th. The PSAT is required to be taken as a junior. After he registered for the PSAT in early Sept, I contacted the Guidance office and his hearing itinerant to let them know and to request that he get extended testing time as is written in his 504 plan. The 504 plan was done as a Freshman and the meeting for this year has not occured yet. I was told that the deadline to request accommodations had passed over a month ago even though he got the invite just a few days ago. What can I do at this point and what are my son’s rights? I also want to formally report/complain about the school .

WHO DETERMINES TESTING ACCOMMODATIONS

Ingrid: I think your question is “Who determines if a child receives accommodations on testing?”

Answer: Since your child has an IEP, the IEP team (that includes you) makes decisions about accommodations.

Your child’s IEP should include “a statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance on State and districtwide assessments …” (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)) See page 100 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law.

You said you asked the school psychologist to write extra time into the IEP but the psychologist declined to do so. You need to document what you requested and what you were told in a short, polite letter.

Did the school psych tell you that this is an IEP team decision?

I think you are learning an important lesson – that some school staff believe parents have little knowledge or expertise about their child and the child’s needs. Strange but true. When parents make requests about their child’s educational program, they are surprised and frustrated when the ‘professionals’ ignore them.

If accommodations are important at this stage, you need to get a professional from the private sector involved. If this person evaluates your daughter and determines that she needs specific accommodations AND if this person meets with the IEP team and educates them about your daughter’s disability and needs, you’ll probably get the accommodations your child needs. ~ Pam

Ingrid

Am not sure if the question was answered. I read a lot of resources given, but what the law says about accomodating the child during testing. My daughter has ADHD and she is very bright in many areas, but when it comes to math, her scores are high and low, I have asked school psychologist to write in her IEP extra time during testing and she feels is not necessary because she is in 1st grade. I am trying to help my daughter so she can get it right during testing with more time, but what the law says about accomodations?

Quick Guide to Accommodations on the SAT

Given the variety of questions we receive about accommodations on the college boards (SATs), we know there is considerable confusion about how to obtain accommodations. We saw the need for a quick guide to accommodations on the SATs.

Learn about proof of disability, documentation requirements, eligibility, and accommodations for different disabilities, and where you can get answers to other questions in this new quick guide:

https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/college.SAT.accomm.htm

Shelley: I read about problems with the SAT this spring. This may be a violation of something but it’s not a violation of the IDEA.

The question a lawyer or judge would probably ask is this: “Your daughter was a junior. The College board offered to give her the test again for free. How was she damaged?” Judges tend to accept the fact that “human error” happens all the time – and it does.

It may be time to move on. You’ll probably need strength to get through her senior year!

JSL

Hi my son has multiple learning disabilities and was given a comprehensive Neuropsychological evaluation last spring. That evaluation pointed to some concerning numbers because our son’s memory and processing, which have always been low, have been steadily declining over the years. Nevertheless the College Board did not give him extended time for most of his tests. He only got 50% extended time for tests with math and calculations in them. He also did not get use of a computer to write his essays. Even for a child with mild LD issues, writing on a computer is very different than writing long hand. I personally write 4 times as fast on the computer than I do long hand. It is extremely frustrating because this private organization has become the gate-keeper for many of our kids. Bright LD kids who have had to work hard to get remediated for their LD are particularly hurt by the college boards attitude that people are just looking for accommodations so they can get a leg up. It is crazy because who in their right mind would want an extended test when the test is already so long.

I wish somebody would sue the college board for violating the rights of our kids.

Shelley

My daughter who is also a HS junior and has received accommodations for BOTH the ACT and SAT tests had her most recent (April 2008) ACT scores VOIDED due to according to ACT HUMAN ERROR and MISTAKE. She receives STOP-THE-CLOCK as an accommodation but the day of the test the proctor provided her with EXTENDED TIME which was signed off by the site supervisor. Upon acknowledgment of this egregious error, ACT Test Administration VOIDED her score, deeming it to be invalid and all they offer in response is a FREE registration for the June test date.

As a special educator of 30+ years I am sure this is in direct violation of BOTH IDEA and SECTION 504 and am requesting any information as to how we should proceed and the steps we might take to allow her scores to stand.

This is an OUTRAGE that students for whom these laws were passed – to provide them with equity and access are often the victims of HUMAN ERROR .

Looking forward to a response.
Shelley Levy

Lori Smith

My daughter is having a similar issue. She took the Feb. ACT test during the Feb./March test window, and the test chair/proctor at her school gave her stop the clock breaks instead of regular breaks. She is approved for double time over multiple days. The test chair refuses to speak to me about this, and the ACT says I need to speak to the test chair at my daughter’s school! The ACT has not scored her test as of today and will probably not. She has registered for the ACT again, and the test window begins today 4/8 and will run through 4/30. I have not received a test date or letter from the ACT confirming the test date and the accommodations. I sent the test chair the steps she had to take to login and have the ACT apply the already approved accommodations to the April test.