High Stakes Testing and Accommodations

High Stakes Testing and Accommodations          

With the emphasis on high stakes testing, as well as the intense and overdone competition at many high schools, there is a push back from school districts and a tendency to deny extended time for students with good grades.

It is not uncommon for parents to come to my office for a consultation for help in navigating their child’s need for testing accommodations. Often, the student may present as a very hard-working student who gets good grades but may report that they do very well on their homework and spend an excessive amount of time studying. At some of the more competitive schools this may mean that they spend an average of 4-5 hours per night just to keep up. They are not failing or even on the surface struggling but the effort is disproportionate. Additionally, it is not atypical for their grades on tests to be lower than their homework and other projects outside of a testing situation.

In my office, the student will may say that they studied very hard for the tests and during the test they were frustrated because they were afraid of running out of time or simply were freezing under the pressure of a timed assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Testing Accommodations:

Do I need a current evaluation?

Typically, the answer is yes.

What kind of documentation do I need?


  • Recommendations of highly qualified professionals;
  • Proof of past testing accommodations;
  • Observations by educators;
  • Results of psycho-educational or other professional evaluations;
  • An applicant’s history of diagnosis
  • An applicant’s statement of his or her history regarding testing accommodations

[Note: Not all of these are necessarily required]


Do I need to have an IEP or a 504 Plan to qualify for testing accommodations?

Although a student may have never previously received testing accommodations through an IEP, Section 504 plan or a formal private school policy, she may nevertheless be entitled to extended time for the standardized exam. An absence of formal testing accommodations does not preclude a candidate from receiving testing accommodations.

What accommodations are available on tests?

The need for accommodation type is highly individualized. Some examples of accommodations are as follows:

  • Eliminate the use of a scantron
  • Extended time
  • Oral Testing
  • Use of a basic calculator
  • Large print test
  • Use of a scribe
  • Wheelchair access
  • Screen Reading Technology



ADA: Testing Accommodations

Understood.org: What is the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?

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About Micki Moran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship, and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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