Accommodations for Students with Disabilities on Standardized Tests
Under guidelines from IDEA and NCLB, most students with disabilities are required to take district and state standardized tests, including state high-stakes tests. A list of standard accommodations provided is shown here. Keep in mind that research on effective strategies for determining which students get which accommodations is still being done. Given the range of abilities within all disability groups, it is recommended that teachers avoid using students' labels to make these decisions and instead base them on individual student characteristics.
Elliott and Roach (2002) have conducted a series of studies about the impact of providing testing accommodations to students with disabilities. While Elliott and Roach emphasize that much more research is needed, they were able to draw the following conclusions from their work:
- Students with disabilities participate in large-scale assessments more often when testing accommodations are available.
- Packages of individual accommodations are more effective than individual accommodations alone.
- Approximately 50 to 70 percent of students with disabilities produce higher test scores when they receive accommodations.
- Approximately 15 to 20 percent of students without disabilities also produce higher test scores when they receive accommodations.
- Reading aloud is not a valid accommodation for students taking reading tests.
Edgeman, Jablonski, and Lloyd (2006) have described a process for IEP teams to use when deciding on testing accommodations for individual students.
Types of Testing Accommodations
- Provide special lighting.
- Provide adaptive or special furniture.
- Provide special acoustics.
- Administer the test to a small group in a separate location.
- Administer the test individually in a separate location.
- Administer the test in a location with minimal distractions.
- Allow a flexible schedule.
- Extend the time allotted to complete the test.
- Allow frequent breaks during testing.
- Provide frequent breaks on one subtest but not another.
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