With NYS assessments quickly approaching, schools are preparing to provide students with disabilities test accommodations that are consistent with the documentation in IEPs (Individualized Education Plan). Contrary to popular belief test accommodations are not intended to give students with disabilities an unfair advantage over that of their general education peers. They are designed to provide students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate, demonstrate knowledge/ability and promote access to examinations. Test accommodations do not alter the constructs being measured.
When providing test accommodations to students with disabilities it is essential to understand the difference between accommodations and modifications.
Test accommodations are changes in the standard administration of testing procedures or formats including:
- the way test items are presented
- student’s method of response
- setting in which test is administered
- timing/scheduling of test
Again, they do not affect the constructs being measured. They are designed to remove obstacles to the test-taking process presented by the disability.
Modifications on the other hand, are changes made to the testing process, content of the exam or provision of certain adaptive technologies that affect the constructs being measured by the exam. They may:
- invalidate the student’s score
- affect the provision of services
Some examples of testing modifications that affect the construct of the test:
- Simplification or explanation of test questions
- Reading of items designed to test the student’s reading skills
- Use of spell- and/or grammar-checking devices on a test of the student’s writing skills
- Use of a calculator on a test of the student’s computational skills
Test accommodations not modifications must be provided to students consistent with the documentation in the student’s IEP. They are developed on an individual basis at CSE meetings and are recommended by individuals who know the strengths and needs of the student, including parents (and the student, as appropriate) as active participants in decision-making who understand the purpose of testing accommodations.
In order to implement test accommodations with quality and fidelity they should consist of the following indicators:
- consistent with the instructional accommodations currently used during classroom instruction.
- determined student by student, based on the unique needs and individual learning characteristics of the student.
- not based solely on the student’s classification of disability or program placement.
- routinely provided in the classroom.
- not introduced for the first time during State or district wide assessments.
- determined systematically using a standard set of questions or variables to consider in making decisions.
- documented in the IEP.
- reviewed annually and at reevaluation by the CSE.
For more information on Test accommodations, register for our free half day workshop on March 28th at OCM BOCES
Coordinator, Mid-State RSE TASC