Double Check Accommodations Before Year-End Testing
Being proactive avoids last-minute testing confusion
Photo courtesy of racorn/Shutterstock.com
North Carolina schools are preparing their students for the End-of-Grade tests, the End-of-Course tests and the Advanced Placement exams. For optimum testing results, there will be plenty of planning by teachers and administration.
Parents with exceptional children, who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), can be proactive by preparing for their own child’s testing in advance. It is a good idea for parents to make sure they understand exactly where, when, and how their student will be tested.
Verify the testing plan with the case manager
Although the students’ testing accommodations are in place throughout the school year, sometimes the setting differs with standardized testing. For instance, some children might not have a separate setting in math during regular class assessments, but do use a separate setting accommodation for reading. For the math portion of the standardized testing though, this same student might have an accommodation for separate setting.
Another challenge with some of the standardized testing environments is the “wording” of the accommodation itself. There is one confusing accommodation that teachers, proctors and even administrators struggle with; it is, “read aloud” and “read allowed.” Now, you would think that since these two words have completely different meanings, then this would be self-explanatory — it is not! The misunderstanding derives from the misinterpretations. Not that this is anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it is.
There are a few scenarios to this particular accommodation. For example, to many educators, this accommodation might mean the student is placed into a small group in which the testing administrator reads “out loud” to all the students in the group and that each student takes the test at the same pace. It could also mean, that your student is a one-on-one test taker and the testing administrator reads the test to your child and no other students are in the room.
Wait — there’s more….
“Read allowed” on the other hand, means that your student is given permission to literally use his or her own voice to “read out loud” to him or herself. For some students, especially with math, this is an effective method to help the student focus on the questions being asked. This accommodation also means, your student, without a doubt, will be testing alone so as not to disturb other student test takers.
These two accommodations seem simple enough, but without precise clarification, the outcome could have some very tricky results.
The last thing anyone wants is a test that is skewed because one of the tests was not administered correctly. It is my opinion that exceptional students usually give it their best effort the very first day they take the test. If a test has been administered incorrectly, and there is a “misadministration,” the student will need to retake the test. If this happens after a full day of stressful testing, the student may feel frustrated that he or she has to do it all over again.
For students who require frequent breaks during testing, or who complete the test in multiple sessions, they should have these accommodations confirmed well before the testing date. In addition, children who have a language barrier, or require any type of assistance should confirm the accommodations to ensure the supports are in place on test date.
Double check IEP
Testing accommodations are available at all levels, even for the student who is enrolled into an honors or advanced placement class, as long as their accommodations are written into the IEP.
Usually, the testing accommodations are decided at the start of the school year or when the annual meeting is held. Students meet goals throughout the year, but some, unfortunately, do not. This might be a good time to address any challenges and make the necessary changes.
It is always a good idea to check and double check the exact testing circumstances. This tends to be a very hectic time of year, but proactive parents will eliminate some sticky “red tape” and confusion in the long run.
Speaking with your child’s case manager should avoid any last minute challenges, but do it quick; the testing date will be here before you know it.
C.C. Malloy lives in Greensboro and is a steadfast supporter of children with disabilities. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal’s Exceptional Blooms.