Testing Accommodations, Part 4

Testing Accommodations, Part 4

This is part four in a four-part guest series.

In this series, Dr. Martin Friedmutter, a licensed psychologist, explains how the comprehensive report is prepared once all testing and evaluations are completed. Test accommodations are extremely important, as they can help your student optimize his or her performance for such standardized tests as the ACT, SAT, GRE, and LSAT.

In parts 1–3 of this series, we discussed the clinical/diagnostic interview, the aptitude test (IQ Test), and the comprehensive achievement battery. Once these evaluations are completed, the final comprehensive report documents the presence of a functional limitation.

What is a functional limitation?

To be eligible for accommodations on the SAT, ACT, GRE, or LSAT (or any other standardized test), students must demonstrate the impact of a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or an emotional difficulty (such as anxiety) that would substantially influence their ability to participate in one of the above standardized tests. This is called a functional limitation.

A diagnosis of a learning disability or ADHD does not automatically equate to testing accommodations.

A student with a disability may or may not have a functional limitation. For proof of a functional limitation, and therefore, access to testing accommodations, the disability must be shown to affect the student’s ability to take tests as well as his or her daily life.

How should functional limitations be documented?

The comprehensive report will describe how the student’s daily functioning is affected, as well as how the student’s disability affects his or her ability to take a standardized test. In order to determine a student’s functional limitations, the professional would review his or her question-response process in addition to reviewing all standardized scores. The professional would then examine the degree of difficulty an individual experiences as he or she attempts to formulate a correct response to a question or task. For example, the professional would indicate whether an individual has to read and reread written material before responding. The professional would also document if the individual has difficulty concentrating for long periods of time, responds in an impulsive manner, and/or has difficulty staying patient with difficult tasks. The professional would also describe any executive functioning deficits, such as difficulty with planning or organizing responses and managing time, which may be impacting his or her test-taking ability.

The comprehensive report also includes a psychoeducational evaluation, including test scores and narrative. The report also encompasses a summary of the student’s developmental, educational, and medical history, and teachers’ observations when applicable.

Once all of the above information is documented in the comprehensive report, it is submitted to the governing body of the specific test. The report should be submitted at least six weeks prior to the date of the standardized exam to ensure that the test administrators have time to process the request for accommodations.

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Dr. Friedmutter is the Director of the Westchester Career & Learning Center and is a licensed psychologist with over twenty years of experience. One of his areas of specialization is the treatment and diagnosis of children, adolescents, and adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Learning Disabilities (LD), and anxiety. He has extensive experience with the evaluation and treatment of children and adults who have ADHD, LD, and/or anxiety. He also specializes in evaluations for test accommodations.

*It is important to remember that test accommodations are not a substitute for individual test prep and are not necessary or appropriate for every student.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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