Although many colleges and universities are beginning to forego requirements for standardized testing, many schools still expect students to take college prep tests such as the ACT or SAT and submit these scores with their college applications.
These standardized tests have created significant issues for students with disabilities, including a recent dispute over the ACT disclosing students’ disabilities. Additionally, the actual procedure of taking the test can pose a challenge for many. However, it seems that the test maker is currently taking steps to mitigate those challenges.
ACT test-takers get automatic accommodations
According to Disability Scoop, beginning in the 2021 – 2022 school year, the ACT will recognize and allow certain accommodations for students with disabilities taking the test. The ACT will automatically provide specific accommodations if they are outlined in students’:
- Individualized education plan (IEP), and/or
- 504 plan
To those wondering whether the ACT and SAT were supposed to provide reasonable accommodations before now: the answer is yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers testing accommodations for individuals in many settings, including during standardized testing. According to the ACT’s new report, the difference moving forward will be that the accommodations will be automatically applied. For example, if a student has a test-taking accommodation included in their IEP already, they will not need to go through a separate process to obtain this accommodation to take the ACT.
What exactly does this mean?
Each particular accommodation will depend on each student’s unique IEP or 504 plan. However, this change will allow students to automatically receive test-taking accommodations such as:
- Taking the test in a separate room,
- Getting extended time to take the test, or
- Using Braille booklets or screen readers
Students and families will likely have to share their IEPs or 504 plans with the ACT to obtain the automatic accommodations. However, they do not need to prove that they qualify to receive such accommodations if it is already included in their education plans.
Students with disabilities have a right to obtain certain accommodations that give them equal opportunities to learn and succeed. Parents and students must understand and protect these rights throughout their education, including when it comes to standardized testing and college applications.
Receiving accommodations for standardized testing through IEPs and 504 plans is a positive change that will provide easier access to the tools that many students depend on. It is also a positive step for many families and students who are hoping for higher education to become more accessible.