Higher expectations for students with disabilities have led to greater attention being paid to the accommodations students need in order to have full and equal access to educational opportunities in instruction and testing. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA) reflect and reinforce these higher expectations. For example, IDEA states that the education of students with disabilities can be made more effective by having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible. The law requires Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to develop concrete strategies for linking IEPs to the general curriculum, which should reflect state standards.
IDEA also recognizes the importance of assessment as a way to improve educational results for students with disabilities. Therefore, IDEA also now requires that all students with disabilities participate in any state and districtwide assessment programs being given to the general student population.1 IEP teams must now address how students will participate in large-scale assessments, including needed accommodations. This Fact Sheet focuses primarily on the use of accommodations in large-scale state and districtwide assessments.
If needed, students with disabilities have the right to receive accommodations during testing. When used during testing, an accommodation generally does not change the test content or difficulty. Rather, an accommodation allows students to demonstrate what they know by reducing the interference of the disability. IEPs must include a statement of individual modifications and accommodations necessary for a student with a disability to participate in assessments.
In an effort to assist parents, educators, and policymakers as they move toward full participation of students with disabilities in large-scale assessments, the Parents Engaged in Education Reform (PEER) Project compiled examples of accommodations drawn from a review of policy documents developed by the 47 states in 1997.2
The following list of examples of accommodations used across the country is by no means exhaustive. Test accommodations and modifications must be based on a studentís individual needs. Consequently, it is not possible to develop a comprehensive listing of all the possible testing accommodations for students with every type of disability for all different tests or test items. Rather, this list was developed to assist IEP teams in considering the broad spectrum of accommodations that may be needed to provide students with disabilities full and equal opportunity to participate in assessment programs.
The law requires IEP teams to consider the full range of accommodations, including those utilized in classroom instruction. Use of some types of accommodations may initially be controversial, especially when the occommodation is closely related to the skill being assessed (for example, reading a reading test). Yet it is essential to allow consideration of all types of accommodations to protect against discrimination in test administration. Considering all types of accommodations becomes even more critical for high-stakes tests.
The examples of accommodations
for IEP Team consideration that must be considered by the IEP team are
organized into four categories : Presentation Accommodations; Response
Accommodations; Timing and Scheduling Accommodations; and Setting Accommodations.
1 Participation in large-scale assessments is also required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
noted in this document are from this review. IDEA does not define or categorize
Information in this Fact
Sheet is based on the PEER Information Brief, "Accommodations:
Examples from State Assessment Policies" by Julia K. Landau, Janet R. Vohs,
and Sue Cusack.
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© Copyright 1999
The Federation for Children with Special Needs, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
This publication has
been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Education, Office
of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Funding for this
publication was provided by the Office of Special Education Programs, OSERS,
U.S. Department of Education, through grant #H029K50208.