Saugerties High School

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    • What are Test Accommodations?
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

       
       

      Purpose of Test Accommodations  

       Testing accommodations are changes in the standard administration of a test including testing procedures or formats that enable a student with a disability to participate in assessment programs on an equal basis with their non-disabled peers.

         Testing accommodations can change the way in which test items are presented to the student, the student’s method of responding, the setting in which the test is administered, and the timing and scheduling of the assessment.   Testing accommodations do not alter the construct of the test being measured or invalidate the results.

         When developing the student’s IEP or Section 504 Accommodation Plan, the responsibility of the Committee on Special Education (CSE)/504 Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is to recommend testing accommodations that will:

      • provide students with disabilities access to the assessment program;
      • enable students to demonstrate their strengths, knowledge and skills without being restricted by their disability; and
      • provide an accurate measure of the standards being assessed so that appropriate instruction and services can be provided.

       

      Considerations in Making Decisions

      In making appropriate decisions, the CSE/504 MDT should consider the following:

      • the student’s individual strengths and needs;
      • the instructional accommodations provided to the student;
      • the types of testing accommodations; and
      • the type and purpose of the tests.

      Questions to Consider To Guide Decision-Making:

      The following general questions and variables to consider may be used as a first step in determining appropriate testing accommodations for individual students.

      Given the student’s unique needs:

      • Is the student able to participate in the standard administration of the assessment?
      • In order to participate, does the student need an accommodation in any of the following aspects of test administration?
      • Location/Setting
      • Scheduling/Timing
      • Presentation (i.e., format)
      • Response
      • To what extent does the student’s disability impede his or her demonstration of the knowledge and/or understanding required by the test?
      • What instructional accommodations, if any, are provided to the student in the classroom?
      • What accommodation(s) will focus on removing the obstacles to equal participation that are a result of the student’s disability?
      • What accommodation(s) will facilitate participation that enables the student to be as independent as possible?

      Information That May Be Considered When Making Decisions:

      • Know the Student

      Decisions must be made by individuals who know the student’s individual strengths and needs. In making its decisions, the CSE/504 MDT should review all available information including:

      • recent evaluations;
      • classroom observation reports;
      • school records; and
      • results of State and districtwide assessments.

      Information from general and special education teachers, parents and the student, as appropriate, should be obtained to assist the CSE/504 MDT in making decisions based on the student’s individual needs.

      Decisions should not be based upon a student’s classification or placement (e.g. "all students with learning disabilities receive extended time").

      • Know the Instructional Accommodations Provided to the Student

      Of particular importance is knowledge about the types of instructional accommodations the student uses in the classroom in order to learn. Whenever possible, there should be a direct link between the instructional accommodations used in the classroom and the testing accommodations provided during assessment. For example, if a student needs learning materials in large type, they will need a testing accommodation that provides testing materials in large type. Teachers, parents and students can provide important information about instructional accommodations that the student needs to access and participate in the general education curriculum. Instructional accommodations must also be discussed at the IEP/504 MDT meeting and indicated on the IEP/504 Plan.

      Instructional accommodations may include:

        • changes in the presentation of materials and assignments such as alternative formats, decreased length of assignments and/or fewer assignments, breaking assignment into smaller parts and presenting information in a variety of ways;
        • changes in setting such as adaptive furniture or small group instruction;
        • changes in timing and scheduling such as extended time to complete assignments; and
        • changes in methods of student’s response such as use of word processor and providing answers orally rather than in writing.

      Many instructional accommodations provide important information in making decisions regarding testing accommodations. However, not all accommodations used during instruction are appropriate for use during State assessments. Example: The use of word banks for classroom assignments are not allowed for State examinations.

      • Know the Types of Testing Accommodations

      Members of the CSE/504 MDT should be knowledgeable about the types of testing accommodations. Testing accommodations are often organized into five categories: flexibility in setting; flexibility in scheduling/timing; method of presentation; method of response; and "other" (see Types of Testing Accommodations).  Members of the CSE/504 MDT should not be limited by this list, as these may not be the only accommodations appropriate for an individual student. Members of the CSE/504 MDT should also consider how particular testing accommodations might affect the validity of the results of particular tests depending on the purpose of the test and the skills it is intended to measure.

      • Know the Purpose and Requirements of the Tests

      The CSE/504 MDT should be familiar with the examinations the individual student is expected to participate in based upon the grade level the student is in and/or the courses he/she is taking during the school year. The conditions or types of tests should be considered in the formulation of recommendations for testing accommodations. Such conditions may include the length of the test, the purpose of the test, how test items are presented and how the student is expected to respond.

      To answer these questions, members of the CSE/504 MDT should have the following information about the tests:

        • content areas covered by the test (what standards/skills the test is measuring);
        • grades/level tested;
        • how the test is administered (length of sessions, setting);
        • presentation format (reading passages, listening passages);
        • response format and nature of test items (multiple choice, short answer, or essay);
        • decisions that will be made based on the scores (i.e., academic intervention services (AIS)); and
        • state guidelines on the use of testing accommodations and what may be allowed/disallowed on State examinations.

      Once this information is obtained, the CSE/504 MDT should take a second look at the student’s need for testing accommodations in consideration of the following:

        • What is this test asking the student to do?
        • What is this test measuring? What are sections of the test measuring?
        • How does the student’s disability affect his/her performance on this test?
        • What accommodations does the student need to meaningfully participate?
        • Are accommodations needed due to particular conditions of this test (length, format, etc.)
        • Will the testing accommodation needed affect the validity of this particular test?

      For example: a student with a motor impairment may need a scribe for tests requiring extensive writing such as essay writing, but not for multiple-choice tests; a student may need breaks at certain intervals for tests longer than an hour but not for 40 minute classroom tests.


       

      Annual Review of the Use of Testing Accommodations

      The testing accommodations that a student may need must be reviewed at least annually by the CSE/504 MDT. Accommodations needed by students early in their school career may not be needed as they gain more skills, knowledge and experience. As they get older, students themselves will also participate more fully in the decision-making as to the types of testing accommodations that are needed.


       

      Documentation

      The IEP must indicate the needed individual testing accommodations, if any, to be used consistently by the student:

      • in his or her recommended education program;
      • in the administration of districtwide assessments of student achievement; and
      • consistent with Department policy, in State assessments of student achievement that are needed by the student to participate in the assessment.

      Testing accommodations must be clearly stated to ensure a consistent understanding by the Committee, school principal, teacher(s), paraprofessionals, student and the student’s parents. Specific testing accommodations (e.g., use of word processor) should be indicated, not generic test accommodation categories (e.g., answers recorded in any manner).

      It is appropriate to indicate the conditions or types of tests that will require testing accommodations. Such conditions may include the length of the test, the purpose of the test, presentation of test items and the method of response required by the student. As examples: a student with a motor impairment may need a scribe for tests requiring extensive writing such as essay writing, but not for multiple-choice tests; a student may need breaks at certain intervals for tests longer than an hour in length but not for 40 minute classroom tests. A particular test accommodation may also be needed due to and in conjunction with the provision of another accommodation. For example, separate setting may be needed when the student has the use of a scribe. In such instances, both accommodations must be indicated on the IEP and qualifying conditions would be indicated as appropriate. If it is determined that the student needs a particular testing accommodation for all tests, then qualifying conditions are not indicated or would indicate "all tests."

      When documenting the following accommodations, the following specifications should be included

      • When documenting extended time, specify the amount of extended time (e.g., time and a half, double time).
      • When documenting breaks, specify the duration of break and at what intervals (e.g., ten-minute break every 40 minutes).
      • When documenting directions read or signed or listening passages read or signed more than the standard number of time, specify the number of times (e.g., directions read two more times than the standard number of times provided for all students as per Department directions).
      • When documenting separate setting, specify individual or small group.
      • When documenting adaptive furniture, special lighting or acoustics, specify type (e.g., study carrel).

      Qualifying terms such as "as appropriate" or "when necessary" should not be used on the IEP. Testing accommodations should not be indicated in a test-specific manner (e.g., "calculator with fraction capability," not "calculator with fraction capability on Regents examination in mathematics").

      Example:

      Testing Accommodations Conditions Specifications
      Use of Scribe For tests requiring essay writing .
      Separate setting When using a scribe Individual
      Directions read All tests 2 additional times
      Breaks For tests longer than 30 minutes in length 5 minute break every 30 minutes


       

      Quality Indicators

       Quality Indicators Recommendations for testing accommodations:
      • Are made by individuals who know the strengths and needs of the student.
      • Are consistent with the instructional accommodations currently used during classroom instruction.
      • Are determined student by student, based on the unique needs and individual learning characteristics of the student.
      • Are not based solely on the student’s classification of disability or program placement.
      • Are routinely provided in the classroom.
      • Are not introduced for the first time during State or districtwide assessments.
      • Include parents (and students, as appropriate) as active participants in decision-making who understand the purpose of testing accommodations.
      • Are made systematically using a standard set of questions or variables to consider in making decisions.
      • Are documented on the IEP or 504 Plan.
      • Are reviewed annually and at reevaluation by the CSE/504 MDT.

       


       

      Types of Testing Accommodations and

      Questions to Consider

      (This is not an exclusive list, but one which is most widely used.)

      FLEXIBILITY IN SETTING

      • Separate location/room – administer test individually
      • Separate location/room – administer test in small group (3-5 students)
      • Provide adaptive or special equipment/furniture (specify type, e.g., study carrel)
      • Special lighting (specify type, e.g., 75 Watt incandescent light on desk)
      • Special acoustics (specify manner, e.g., minimal extraneous noises)
      • Location with minimal distraction (specify type, e.g., minimal visual distraction)
      • Preferential seating

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if setting accommodations are needed:

      • Do others easily distract the student and/or does he/she have difficulty remaining on task?
      • Does the student require any specialized equipment or other accommodations which may be distracting to others?
      • Does the student have visual or auditory impairments that require special lighting or acoustics?
      • Can the student focus on his or her own work in a setting with large groups of other students?
      • Does the student exhibit behaviors that may disrupt the attention of other students?
      • Does the student require any setting accommodations in the classroom?
      FLEXIBILITY IN SCHEDULING/TIMING
      • Extended time (specify amount, as in "time and a half")
      • Administer tests with frequent breaks (specify duration, e.g. sessions not to exceed 30 minutes with 10 minute breaks)
      • Administer State examinations over successive administrations (permitted for certain RCTs only)
      • Administer State examinations over multiple days (requires SED approval)

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if scheduling accommodations are needed:

      • Can the student work continuously for the length of time allocated for the standard test administration?
      • Does the student use other accommodations or adaptive equipment which require more time for the student to complete test items (e.g., use of scribe, use of head pointer to type)?
      • Does the student tire easily due to health impairments resulting in the inability to sit for the length of time required to complete the test in one day?
      • Does the student’s visual impairment decrease his or her working rate or result in eyestrain requiring frequent breaks?
      • Does the student’s learning disability affect the rate at which he or she processes written information?
      • Does the student’s motor disability affect the rate at which he or she writes written responses?
      • Does the student take a medication that might require that testing occur during a specific time of day to assure optimal performance?
      • Does the student’s attention span and/or distractibility require shorter working periods and frequent breaks?
      METHOD OF PRESENTATION

      Revised Test Format 1

      • Braille editions of tests
      • Large type editions of tests
      • Increased spacing between test items
      • Increase size of answer blocks/bubbles
      • Reduce number of test items per page
      • Multiple-choice items in vertical format with answer bubble to right of response choices
      • Reading passages with one complete sentence per line

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if revised test format accommodations are needed:

      • Are instructional materials used in the classroom provided in a revised format (e.g., non-standard print or spacing)?
      • Does the student have difficulty maintaining his or her place in a standard examination booklet?
      • Does the student have a visual, perceptual or motor impairment that requires large-type or Braille materials?

      1For State assessments, any reproduction and/or reformatting of test booklets requires the advance written permission of the Office of State Assessment.

      Revised Test Directions2

      • Directions read to student
      • Directions reread for each page of questions
      • Language in directions simplified
      • Verbs in directions underlined or highlighted
      • Cues (e.g., arrows and stop signs) on answer form
      • Additional examples provided

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if revised test directions are needed:

      • Is the student able to read and understand directions?
      • Is this accommodation provided to the student in the classroom?
      • Can the student follow oral directions from an adult or audiotape?
      • Does the student need directions repeated frequently?

      2 Revision of test directions is an accommodation that is limited to oral or written instructions provided to all students  that explain where and how responses must be recorded; how to proceed in taking the test upon completion of sections; and what steps are required upon completion of the examination. The term "test directions" never refers to any part of a question or passage that appears on a State assessment.

      Use of Aids/Assistive Technology

      • Audio tape
      • Tape recorder
      • Computer (including talking word processor)
      • Listening section repeated more than the standard number of times
      • Listening section signed more than the standard number of times
      • Masks or markers to maintain place
      • Papers secured to work area with tape/magnets
      • Test passages, questions, items and multiple-choice responses read to student
      • Test passages, questions, items and multiple-choice responses signed to student
      • Magnification devices (specify type)
      • Amplification devices (specify type)

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if use of aids are needed:

      • What aids are used for classroom instruction?
      • What assistive technology devices are indicated on the student’s IEP?
      • Has the student been identified as having a reading disability?
      • Does the student have low/poor reading skills that may require the reading of tests or sections of tests that do not measure reading comprehension in order for the student to demonstrate knowledge of subject areas?
      • Does the student have a hearing impairment and need an interpreter to sign directions and/or a listening comprehension section?

      METHOD OF RESPONSE

      • Allow marking of answers in booklet rather than answer sheet
      • Use of additional paper for math calculations

      Use of Aids/Assistive Technology

      • Amanuensis (Scribe)
      • Tape Recorder
      • Word processor

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if use of aids are needed:

      • Does the student have difficulty tracking from one paper to another and maintaining his or her place?
      • Does the student have a disability that affects the ability to record his or her responses in the standard manner?
      • Can the student use a pencil or writing instrument?
      • What aids are used in the classroom and for homework assignments (e.g., word processor, adaptive writing instruments or dictating to a tape recorder or scribe)?

      OTHER

      • On-task focusing prompts
      • Waiving spelling requirements
      • Waiving paragraphing requirements
      • Waiving punctuation requirements

      Use of Aids/Assistive Technology

      • Calculator
      • Abacus
      • Arithmetic tables
      • Spell-check device
      • Grammar-check device

      Examples of questions to ask to determine if use of aids are needed:

      • Has the student been identified as having a disability that affects his/her ability to spell?
      • Has the student been identified as having a disability that affects his/her ability to compute or memorize basic math facts?
      • Does the student have a visual or motor disability that affects the ability to use paper and pencil to perform computations?
      • Does the student have difficulty staying on task?

       


       

      Examples of Student Characteristics and

      Possible Accommodations

      Student Characteristics

      Possible Effect
      on Test-taking

      Possible Accommodations

      Poor attention/distractibility.

      Has difficulty remaining on task.

      .

      .
      May have difficulty concentrating on test items for extended lengths of time and completing exam in allotted time. May be distracted by other students.
      • Separate setting free from distractions
      • On-task focusing prompts
      • Provide breaks during exam period
      • Extended time
      May have difficulty following or remembering directions.
      • Directions read more than standard number of times
      • Directions provided for each page of questions
      • Directions simplified
      May have difficulty dividing attention between test booklet and recording answers on a separate answer sheet.
      • Record answers directly in test booklet
      Processes written information at a slow rate.

      .

      May not be able to complete exam within standard timeframe.
      • Extended time
      May become fatigued/distracted.
      • Separate setting
      • Directions read
      • Tests read orally*
      Poor physical /motor coordination /writing difficulties.

      .

      ...
      Difficulty or unable to record responses using paper and pencil in standard manner.
      • Use of computer/word processor or other writing aids.
      • Respond orally to scribe
      • Separate setting when using scribe
      • Use of adaptive writing utensils
      Difficulty recording answers on a separate answer sheet.
      • Record answers directly in test booklet
      • Allow additional space for writing
      Writing tasks completed at a slow rate.
      • Extended time
      Difficulty or unable to use paper and pencil to solve computations.
      • Use of calculator/math tables*
      • Use of graph paper to align numbers when doing computations
      Difficulty following/understanding directions.

      .

      May not understand what the test requires them to do.
      • Directions read orally
      • Directions simplified
      • Additional examples of directions provided
      • Key words or phrases of directions highlighted
      May have difficulty remembering directions.
      • Directions reread for each page of questions
      Visual impairments

      .

      ..
      Unable to or has difficulty accessing test in standard print format and requires tactile or oral means to obtain information.
      • Braille
      • Tests read orally*
      • Tape recorder
      May have low or limited vision and has difficulty with standard print.
      • Large type
      • Magnifier
      • Tests read when fatigue sets in due to eye strain*
      • Special desk or book stand to hold materials for easier reading
      • Extended time
      • Increase spacing between test items
      • Fewer items per page
      Unable to use paper and pencil to solve computations
      • Use of calculator/talking calculator*
      • Use of graph paper to align numbers
      Difficulty tracking from test to answer sheet.
      • Record answers on test booklet
      • Templates to reduce visible print
        May have low or limited vision and has difficulty with detailed visual tasks such as printed material, graphs, charts, diagrams, etc.
      • Highlighting entire graphs to increase contrast from color of page
      • Special lighting
      • Oral description of graphs, charts, etc. presented in a neutral manner
      Difficulty maintaining place in a standard test booklet.
      • Use of templates to reduce visible print
      Visual-perceptual difficulties Difficulty focusing on individual items if too many items are presented.
      • Large type
      • Increase spacing between test items
      • Fewer items per page
      • Use of templates to reduce visible print
      Emotional/ Mental Health Impairments Displays test anxiety.
      • Extended time
      • Breaks during test
      Exhibits inappropriate behavior.
      • Separate location
      • On-task focusing prompts
      Administered medication which may affect the student’s physical stamina.
      • Test administered during optimal times when student is most alert
      Health Impairments/ poor stamina Unable to sit for extended lengths of time without changing position.
      • Extended time
      • Breaks provided for rest periods
      • Adaptive furniture
      Unable to complete test within standard time allotted due to fatigue.
      • Multiple day testing
      • Separate setting
      Increased fatigue as duration of taking test increases.
      • Use of scribe when fatigue affects ability to write
      • Tests read when fatigue affects ability to read*
      Difficulty with reading Reading skills below grade level of test.
      • Oral reading of tests or sections of tests that do not measure reading comprehension*
      Slow reading pace.
      • Test read orally to student individually in a separate location to accommodate individual student pace*
      • Extended time
      Hearing Impairments Unable to or has difficulty accessing oral directions or listening sections of test in standard manner.
      • Use of sign language interpreter for oral directions and listening passages
      • Listening passages may be signed more than once
      • Written directions provided
      • Extended time
      • Separate setting
      • Amplification devices
      • Preferential seating in front of interpreter
      Difficulty with auditory processing Difficulty remembering and/or understanding oral directions.
      • Repeat directions more than standard number of times
      • Directions simplified
      • Provide written directions
      • Preferential seating
      • Repeat listening section more than standard number of times
      Difficulty with math processing/computations Unable to memorize basic math facts.
      • Use of calculator*
      • Chart of basic math facts*
      *Except as disallowed by Department policy on elementary and intermediate ELA and mathematics tests. http://www.vesid.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/changeaccom.htm
       

       
       

      Testing Accommodations for the GED, PSAT, and SAT I and II Exams

      Please note that decisions regarding allowable testing accommodations for the General Education Development (GED), Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) I and SAT II examinations are made by the following applicable offices:

      • Information on allowable testing accommodations and application procedures to request testing accommodations for the General Education Development (GED) tests can be obtained from the High School Equivalency Program Office of the New York State Education Department at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/workforce/ged/home.html
      • Information and registration materials for taking the PSAT, SAT I or SAT II with testing accommodations are available from:

          College Board Services for Students with Disabilities
          P.O. Box 6226
          Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6226
          For information on SAT call (609) 771-7137
          For information on PSAT call (609) 771-7070
          E-mail address: ssd@info.collegeboard.org

      (adapted from the NYSED guidebook Test Access & Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
           Tools to Guide Decision Making, October 2003)
    Last Modified on March 29, 2004
Last Modified on March 29, 2004
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