Preparation is Key to Gaining Accommodations on ACT College Entrance Test
By Julie Holmquist/Pacesetter
Planning for college requires much preparation, even more so if a student has a disability and requires accommodations on college entrance exams.
Students with disabilities receiving services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are not automatically entitled to ACT or SAT testing accommodation, but must apply to use them.
Because the applications can require substantial documentation and months to process, families of youth with disabilities who plan to attend college and are entering ninth grade should begin preparing if accommodations are needed.
While there is no specific special education law that entitles students to accommodations on college entrance exams, individuals with disabilities are guaranteed certain protections and rights to equal access to programs and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and ADA amendments of 2008, as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
To access these rights when applying for accommodations on college entrance exams, an individual must present documentation of the disability and the necessity of the requested accommodation.
Documentation is key to securing accommodation on the ACT test, says Jody Manning, Pacer’s Parent Training Project Coordinator.
“Parents should begin to consider planning for the ACT testing when their child starts high school in ninth grade,” Manning says. “If planning for the ACT test seems appropriate for their child, they should definitely start thinking about it and make sure accommodations used by their child and the impact of those accommodations are well documented.”
For the ACT, students may request one of the following accommodation categories:
Standard Time National Testing with Accommodations
Extended Time National Testing (50 percent time extension)
Special Testing: Testing at school with extended time and alternate formats available—not as part of national or international testing at a test center.
For detail in these categories, visit act.org/aap/disab/index.html.
The request must be supported by documentation of the disability that is written by the diagnosing professional and meets all of the following guidelines:
· States the specific impairment.
· Is current (within three years).
· Describes the presenting problems and developmental history, including relevant educational and medical history.
· Describes the comprehensive assessments (neuron-psychological or psycho-educational evaluations). ACT also requires other documentation, depending on the specific disability. Visit act.org/aap/disab/policy.html for complete details.
· Describes the substantial limitations resulting from the impairment.
· Describes specific recommended accommodations.
· Establishes the professional credentials for the evaluator, including information about licensure or certification, education and area of specialization.
· Parents and students usually work with school counselors on applications for college entrance exams, Manning says, but school counselors may not be aware of the ACT process for students with disabilities.
For example, parents should know that if an initial application is rejected, they can apply again with additional data, such as the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) accommodations section, as well as progress notes or letters from the teachers, coaches, and others who can substantiate the impact of the disability and the accommodation on the student’s learning.
“Parents who have reapplied, even two or three times, and supplied additional documentation have been successful,” Manning says.
Ed Colby, a spokesperson for Act, says there is “no simple answer” for why an application is rejected. “Every case is looked at individually,” he said.
“If reviewers feel that there isn’t a substantiated need, it will be denied, but it will depend on the information provided by the students, and they will have the opportunity to provide additional information if needed. We go to great lengths to make sure that students who need extended time or other accommodations for the ACT have the ability to receive them.”
Parents can begin preparing the necessary documentation by making sure their child’s accommodations are recorded in the IEP or 504 Plan, along with data that show how the accommodation benefits the student.
“If accommodations are consistently used in the IEP plan, it will help on your application,” Manning says.
Manning points out that students who have 504 Plans should not be discouraged to apply for ACT accommodations, “If they have a strong 504 plan that shows accommodations are being used that benefit the student, as well as an outside neuron-psychological evaluation, students should apply for the special testing.”
For more information about applying for accommodations on the ACT test, call 952-838-9000 and ask to speak to a PACER advocate.
For information on postsecondary education, visit PACER.org/tatra/resources/postsecondary.asp.
Timeline for Parents
Freshman Year: Make sure your child’s accommodations are listed on the IEP or 504 Plan, along with data showing how they benefit your child.
Sophomore Year: Start gathering needed documentation. Check to see if your child’s diagnosis documentation is current and meets the requirement of the ACT application. If not, update it.
Junior Year: Begin application process in the fall. Check ACT testing dates and registration dates online at actstudent.org. The ACT can be taken beginning in the spring of the junior year. National test are given six times a year. ACT test can be taken more than once.
Senior Year: Take ACT test again in the fall, if needed.
From All of Us to
All of you have a Great
Coming Into Spring
by Debra Angstead,
Missouri National Education Association
I promise to read each day and each night. I know it’s the key to growing up right. I’ll read to a crowd. It makes no difference if silent or loud. I’ll read at my desk, at home and at school, on my bean bag or bed, by the fire or pool. Each book that I read puts smarts in my head, cause brains grow more thoughts the more they are fed. So I take this oath to make reading my way of feeding by brain what it needs every day.
Early childhood websites:
The following websites regarding early childhood issues are provided for use by parents, teachers, and other interested professionals:
Practical resources for teachers or parents can be found at this website. It’s free and you can subscribe.
This is a great resource for parents. An excellent Ready to Read screening tool is available. It is completed on the computer and then feedback is provided. Features include School Resources for Parent, Parents’ Guide for Understanding Online Acronyms, and Advice from Parents. (Advertisements may be distracting.)
Provides valuable information on numerous aspects of learning disabilities and ADHD.
Read to Them, Updates website:
Read to them, the nonprofit group that organizes the One District, One Book and One School, One Book programs, has a new website at www.readtothem.org
The website explains the organization’s programs and offers helpful information. It also provides a profile of Timmons Elementary School, which was selected by Read to them as the 2010 One School, One Book ‘Model School of the Year.”
For further information about the One Book programs, which have been featured previously in Reading Today, visit www.readtothem.org.
It's In Your Hands
It’s in your hands- “the knowledge key” that must unlock curious minds.
Young minds that love to seek and learn bright minds that yearn to strive.
It’s in you hands- “the knowledge key”
That builds up self-esteem. Encouraging, motivating, giving of your time so that a child may dare to dream.
It’s in your hands-and with that key be determined to give them your best
With leadership..inspiration and fortitude, yes, qualities that will withstand the test.
It’s in your hands to mold and shape your program of success…
For teaching is still a noble cause one notch above the rest.
It’s in your hands....empowerment to change the child who has lost his way.
Offering insight, wisdom, guidance and love for future brighter days.
Absolutely Fabulous Web Sites for Kids
www.funbrain.com – For grades K-8, the games on fun brain will get your students fired up about language arts, math and more!
www.kidsclick.org – KidsClick is the first place to send your students when you want to direct them to safe, educational sites.
www.wordcentral.com – Word Center, hosted by Merriam-Webster, will make your students wild about words! With appealing graphics and games, this site stresses the literary side of learning.
www.howstuffworks.com – Have your students ever asked how a telephone or car engine works. This award-wining site explains the nuts and bolts of everyday things.
www.mathstories.com – Believe it or not, your students can learn about math and reading on this site. MathStories features more than 4,000 word problems conveniently categorized by topic and difficulty level.
www.coolmath4kids.com – At this “amusement park for math,” students can play dozens of games relating to various math skills.
ERICKSON LEARNING CENTER
“AT ERICKSON, LEARNING IS POWERFUL, OUR STRENGTH IS IN OUR TEACHERS, AND OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH”