Accommodations for Standardized Tests--What You Need to Know about Psychological Testing to Document a Disability
So many parents have questions about applying for accommodations during “high stakes” tests such as the SAT, ACT, AP and Achievement tests. Accommodations can make a huge difference for students with ADHD, LD or anxiety. Unfortunately, many parents (and even some psychologists) are not familiar with the process. A small mistake by the psychologist can disqualify your child from getting accommodations--so you have just one chance to get this right!
Your child may qualify for accommodations if he has a disability that interferes with his ability to perform a "major life task" (such as learning, reading, speaking, working). The law that guides who gets accommodations under what circumstances is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504. This section of the law protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. A student with a documented disability has the right to reasonable accommodations. How do you document your child's need for accommodations? Through high quality psychological testing.
So how do parents and students go about getting accommodations? The first thing to do is to PLAN AHEAD. Make sure that your child has a DOCUMENTED record of receiving, using, and benefiting from accommodations in the educational setting well before the test. Its a good idea to speak with a psychologist as soon as you realize your child may need extra help.
Parents sometimes make the mistake of calling to schedule a psychological evaluation a few weeks before the test date. Waiting until the last minute can be a disaster. Make sure to consult a psychologist early, and schedule your testing at least 3 months before the test.
Finally, make sure you get the right psychologist. Find someone with very high ethical standards (a person who is known for 'fudging' their reports will hurt, not help, your child's case). Find someone who has extensive experience testing for high-stakes test accommodations, with a good track record of success. Finally, find a psychologist who does her testing personally (without passing your child off to a tech or grad student)--this is too important a task for a trainee! Remember, you have one chance to get this right.
To learn more about ADA and IDEA, please check these websites:
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities www.nichy.org
The Council for Exceptional Children www.cec.sped.org
and of course, check the website of the publisher of any standardized test you plan to take
Good luck on your tests!
Dr. Rebecca Resnik
Licensed Clinical Psychologist