Types of Testing Accommodations
As indicated in Chapter 2, recent years have witnessed an increased awareness and use of testing accommodations in large-scale testing as well as in classroom testing. An impetus for this increase is the legislative mandate for students with disabilities and ELLs to participate in state and district-wide assessment programs. Another reason is the inclusive education movement that calls for students with disabilities to be educated and assessed in the general education classroom. While most of the testing accommodations have been developed for students with disabilities, some have been developed for ELLs. The rationales for the use of testing accommodations for these two student populations are similar. A review of the literature (e.g., AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999; Siskind, 1993; Thurlow, Liu, Erickson, Spicuzza, & El Sawaf, 1996; Thurlow, Ysseldyke, and Silverstein, 1995) indicates testing accommodations can be organized generally into several categories: (1) modification of setting, (2) modification of presentation format, (3) modification of response format, (4) modification of timing and scheduling, (5) using portions of a test or substitute tests, (6) testing of limits. This organizational scheme can be used to categorize testing accommodations applicable to students with disabilities as well as ELLs. In this section, the accommodations for the two student populations are discussed together under each category. Although some accommodations can be used for both student populations, others are suitable only to students with a particular type of disability or to ELLs with a certain level of English proficiency. Explanations of the six types of accommodations follow. Further discussions of their use with different specific types of diverse learners are provided in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.
Modification of Setting
Modification of setting, also known as setting accommodations, is associated with modifications in the location, environment, or condition of testing. Examples of this type of accommodations include testing in an alternative location, individual testing, small group testing, preferential seating, and using a bilingual test administrator. If a standard testing site is not readily accessible to special test takers (e.g., students with wheelchairs), modification of the architectural structure of the testing site should be made to improve accessibility. Special students may also be allowed to take the test in an alternative location or facility (e.g., home with supervision). Sometimes it is appropriate to change group test administration to individual administration for students who cannot take the test in a group setting, or for students whose participation in group testing would pose an interference to other test takers. For example, a student with a diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be allowed to take a test alone in a private room or test carrel. In addition, setting accommodation includes modifications of the testing environment to make it more conducive to optimal performance of diverse learners, such as using special lighting, special acoustics, amplification devices, adaptive furniture, or other equipment.
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