Informal Accommodations and High Stakes Testing

Submitted by Tim on Mon, 06/24/2013 - 03:41 PM

There are many reasons to be wary of informal or unwritten accommodations of your child’s disability. The major concern is that informal changes made by individuals depend on those individuals remaining in their roles. But when a student changes grade or school, the teacher who informally gives extra time on math tests probably won’t follow that student.  

Without a written plan, you will not be able to show the school district that it already agreed to particular changes for your child. Instead, you will need to start over at the beginning of the process, convincing the district that a particular modification or accommodation is necessary for your child. That concern is one of many reasons that accommodations are supposed to be listed in an IEP.1  

In addition to those basic concerns, the accommodations your child receives on high stakes testing like the CRCT or SAT are heavily dependent on the parallel accommodations your child receives in the classroom. Even when everything is going well between you and the school district, the administrators of high stakes tests often resist giving accommodations during testing. If the accommodations are not written in a special education plan, then the administrators of the high stakes test are even more likely to resist.  

Fortunately, this is one area where you and the school district have interests in common. For a variety of reasons, school districts want better scores on high stakes tests, because that reflects well on the school district. Thus, the district is likely to agree to put accommodations in writing if it has already been convinced to provide the accommodation. But just because the district is willing to put accommodations in writing does not mean that school officials will remember to do so when the IEP or 504 plan is being written. Thus, reminding school officials about this issue can get accommodations written down, with all the benefits of formal instead of informal accommodation.  

1 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(IV).  

Interesting Links

From Georgia Public Broadcasting, this is an interesting article about shortfalls in Georgia programs for training new teachers.  

Upcoming Events

I will be speaking at the Reach Enrichment Center’s monthly meeting on Saturday, August 3 at 10:00 am.  

Additionally, I will be speaking at the SPECTRUM parent support group monthly meeting on Thursday, October 3 at 6:30 pm.  

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