What are testing accommodations?

Testing is part and parcel of a student’s education journey. Even our students with disabilities also have to sit both formative and high-stakes testing. Tests are periodically given to all students to measure their achievement and understanding. For students with disabilities, special accommodations can be requested to make testing a more level playing field for them. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) testing accommodations are changes to the regular testing environment that allow individuals with disabilities to demonstrate their true aptitude or achievement level on standardized exams or other high-stakes tests. Individual accommodations are determined for each student by his or her IEP team.

In this section:

What types of testing accommodations are available?

What testing accommodations are covered by ADA requirements?

Assistive technology and testing accommodations

Webinar: How to Support Students on the State Assessment

What types of testing accommodations are available?

An accommodation in testing means that one or more aspects of the testing conditions have been altered so that a student with a disability can fully demonstrate their mastery in any given subject. Testing accommodations generally mirror any accommodations made for the student in the normal classroom environment. They fall under four types of accommodations: timing and scheduling, setting, presentation, and response. Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail.

Timing and scheduling accommodations

Changes to timing means that we’re increasing the time allocated to complete a test or assignment. If we were to make a change to the testing schedule, it might mean changing the date or time of the test to better accommodate our students.

Setting accommodations

If a student has a setting accommodation, we’d need to take a look at the location of the test. Where would be better suited for the student to take the test? Or is there something that needs to change about the conditions of the test? For example, would noise canceling headphones be appropriate?

Response accommodations

Making an accommodation to the way that a student responds to testing involves how they complete activities or test answers. This might involve a scribe or some kind of assistive device.

Presentation Accommodations

Making a change to how students access test questions and information falls under presentation accommodations. Changes include giving them access to testing materials without having to rely on standard print.

What testing accommodations are covered by ADA requirements?

The ADA outlines a wide range of testing accommodations that might be required by students in special education during formative assessment or high-stakes tests.

Presentation accommodations

Large print
Magnification devices
Sign language
Tactile graphics
Human readers
Audiotape or CD
Audio amplification devices
Screen reade

Setting accommodations

Reduce distractions to the student
Reduce distractions to other students
Change setting to for accessibility
Change setting to allow the use of special equipment
Permission to bring and take medications during the exam (for students with diabetes who need to monitor their blood sugar and use insulin).

Response accommodations

Human scribe
Tape recorder
Spelling and grammar aids

Timing and scheduling accommodations

Extended time
Frequent breaks
Change of schedule or order of activities

Using assistive technology as part of your testing accommodations

Students in special education with documented disabilities must be allowed to use assistive technology (AT) for testing, just like they would in the classroom, everyday. A student’s IEP team usually recommends assistive technology suitable for the student. Parents and teachers can also request AT for a student.

AT used during testing makes sure that every student can show their knowledge and mastery to the best of their abilities. AT is a means of levelling the playing field for students in special education. Testing scenarios where students can use text-to-speech, or speech-to-text technology gives the student the opportunity to sit a test independently, without relying on a teacher or other human intervention.

What technology can be used in testing?

Any tool that a student already uses in a classroom environment may be approved for use during both classroom assessments and in high-stakes testing.

The most common AT accommodations are:

  1. Computer
  2. Tape recorder
  3. Dictaphone
  4. Audio Amplification
  5. Text-to-Speech software
  6. Speech-to-text technology
  7. Screen magnifier
  8. Screen overlay
  9. Word prediction technology

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Testing Accommodations: How to Support Students on the State Assessment

Testing accommodations can pose more questions than answers, including: how do accommodations work with online state assessments, which students should get accommodations, and which tools are available or embedded?

In this on-demand webinar, Ruth Ziolkowski, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Partnerships for Don Johnston and Texthelp, will guide you to:

  1. Understand how various accommodations work in conjunction with state tests
  2. Know where to go to get answers to your state-specific questions
  3. Screen students to determine if they would benefit from a read-aloud or speech-to-text accommodation
  4. Advocate for appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities

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