Even though it is January, it is time now to make requests for accomodations on high stakes testing such as the SAT , ACT and Advanced Placement [AP] exams. Every year in March and even in April parents come to me with requests for help in appealing declination decisions for high stakes testing. Very often the problems center on the age of the evaluations which substantiate the needed accomodations, the validity of the evaluations or the documentation contained in the IEP or other student records. In the Spring there is almost no leeway to correct gaps in documentation.
The following are among the necessary elements for the documentation to substantiate a claim for accomodations for children with learning disabilities from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which administers the SAT and AP [ACT requirements are substantially similar]:
Documentation Necessary to Substantiate the Learning Disability--
- Must be Comprehensive
- Include diagnostic Interview
- A full assessment including ability and achievement probes
- Documentation Must Include a Specific Diagnosis
- Actual Test Scores from Standardized Instruments Must be Provided
- Each Accommodation Recommended by the Evaluator Must Include a Rationale
- An Interpretative Summary Must be Provided
While these elements seem basic and these guidelines were originally issued in 1999, it is remarkable how often I see psychological testing from schools and from private psychologists that are vague on a number of these points; scores are missing; rationales are implied at best; and, even some that leave off a diagnosis or how a diagnosis was reached. Getting all of the paperwork lined up now will save a lot of problems in the Spring. ETS/ACT are the final word on the subject of testing accomodations and it is not up to the local school or IEP team.