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Denied ACT accomodation

anniezzanniezz Registered User Posts: 911 Member
I'm so frustrated right now!

My DD was denied extended time for the ACT. They instead gave her "special testing" accomodation so that she could take the test over several days with standard time, but this does not address her needs!

She has processing delays and neurological issues that mean that she needs extra time, both for processing and for handwriting. They don't feel that her reports indicate a need, and say that a calculator is all that's needed to accomodate the processing delays for math. The calculator doesn't cut it! The problem with math is that everything is in slow motion - from figuring out what the problem is, to figuring out the steps to solve it. The calculator helps with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, but that doesn't recognize that all of it takes time.
They also penalize her because she is a very smart kid. Before she got sick, she was testing in the 99th percentile and so now, even though she tests out much lower, she is still within "average range" and therefore not accomodated.

This kid didn't ask to get sick, and it's just so unfair! I just want to cry. :(
Post edited by anniezz on

Replies to: Denied ACT accomodation

  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 Registered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    Sorry, anniezz. :( The same thing happened to me, I understand that it is extremely frustrating. I ended up taking the test without accommodation and scored about 10 points lower than I should have... but, it did work out well for me eventually regardless, you and your D will figure something out. I am sorry the two of you have to go through this!
  • OhioMom3000OhioMom3000 Registered User Posts: 2,063 Senior Member
    You can appeal.
  • swans004swans004 Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    I'm so sorry to hear that, but unfortunately that's how the test companies are now. They have gotten extremely stingy with giving accommodations, and I get the feeling that the ACT is worse than the SAT right now. She's actually somewhat fortunate to have been allowed anything (although I know that doesn't make you feel much better).

    I do test accommodations consulting, so if you'd like to talk, PM me. A lot depends on how the report was written, which measures were used, and what accommodations she's receiving in school.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,430 Senior Member
    It might be worth an appeal, if she's a junior there will be several more testing cycles. Go back through all the testing documentation and make sure that it is solid. Did the school give you all the documentation related to her IEP? You don't say how many years since her neurological issues, but make sure you document going back to the beginning and make sure the tests specifically indicate processing delays. At this point if you don't understand the test results see if you can talk to whomever administered the last round. Make sure she isn't missing any tests...there are several of them that are done to diagnose learning disabilities that are pretty standard. Did the school apply for her? If so go back to them and see if they have additional documentation. Make sure the accommodations that she is getting in the school mirror on her IEP the accommodations you are requesting...in other words make sure that the paperwork that gives her extra time in school goes with the appeal. It feels like from some posts lately that the testing services might be cracking down on kids who ask for accommodations but aren't receiving or using them in high school so make sure the school sends everything! I know my son's documents from the school that were sent was quite a thick pile. It took 3 weeks to get the letter allowing the ACT accommodations so start the appeal now.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,813 Senior Member

    I'm sorry that her request was denied. :-( Are you saying they would spread the ACT over several days but still use the normal time limit for each section?

    For my son, that might be ideal, but I'm just at the beginning stages of looking at requesting accommodations. It seems like such a daunting task.

    It sounds like appealing is worth a shot.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 31,780 Super Moderator
    We have requested extended time for my son, who has bipolar disorder. It is really hard for him to focus and concentrate. I don't have much hope they'll approve the request, but we'll see. He is so bright, it's hard to see him struggle. :(
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,813 Senior Member

    When did you request the accommodation? When do you expect to hear anything?

    I have just been trying to get the energy to request them. I homeschool my son so I have to gather all the documentation from different specialists. He has a severe convergence insufficiency and his ophthalmologist wrote a letter already. He also has adhd (I'll ask both the psychologist and psychiatrist for letters), depression, and type 1 diabetes. (I'll ask his endocrinologist for a letter)

    He tests at the 99.9%ile in the verbal realm but his processing speed and math skills are very low. Unfortunately, his testing is too old and I don't have $$$ to retest, so I'm hoping the four professional listed above will be able to help get some accommodations for him...
  • entertainersmomentertainersmom Registered User Posts: 1,394 Senior Member
    ^ sbjdorlo - It may be worth your time to check with your local school district. It may be your district's responsibility to offer testing even though you home school. You are paying taxes, and were your child in public school he would (hopefully) be tested. Check your state Dept. of Education site.
    If you have the scores to back up the slow processing you will be in better shape. My s is a Sophomore and has extra time for the SAT. His WISC Verbal Comprehension was 132, his processing 78. I suspect your child's scores may be similar. We will be requesting extra time on the ACT though the process is a bit different. The ACT requires you to indicate the test date when you send in the documentation.
  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 2,723 Senior Member
    Can she get a better accomodation for SAT? If so, just forget ACT. Most schools take both these days although I know ACT is more popular in some parts of the country. SAT may work better anyway since it is superscored by most school and she can focus on bringing up one section at a time if she has enough time for mulitiple testing.

    Or let her try it with what they give you but don't have scores sent anywhere until you see how it turns out. Even students with no accomodation needs have good days and bad days. My D took SAT second time with no improvement over previous time, then one week later took ACT only because district paid for it and made perfect score. She didn't get smarter in a week...just one of those things.

    Also, try and look ahead to possible colleges now and start dialogue with admissions counselor. Some schools are now score optional or you may can get accomodation from their end about how they look at scores. The earlier you get someone at colleges on your side the better.

    Good luck
  • swans004swans004 Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    I second everyone's recommendations to appeal. You just need to comb through everything that was submitted to figure out the weak spots. Remember that the people evaluating the documentation are not necessarily psychologists/physicians/nurses, and that they don't necessarily have much understanding of what your documentation means. The school documentation is critical, also. You won't be able to get it done before the June test, but should certainly have an answer before the September test.

    For anyone interested, the GAO recently published a report on how the test companies aren't doing a good job with giving accommodations even when clearly warranted. You can read it here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587367.pdf

    FYI, the ACT is particularly difficult for students whose disability doesn't clearly fit the official DSM diagnoses. Something like "processing speed deficit," while legitimate and descriptive may not cut it, especially for kids who aren't already receiving accommodations in school.

    @maine The documentation is the key. The psychological report needs to be very clearly written. If he's getting accommodations in school, he's got a shot. If not, he may be out of luck. The ACT is particularly persistent about wanting to see school accommodations. Your son may have better luck with the SAT, but it takes a long longer to get an answer from them. If you want to try for SAT accommodations in the fall, I'd get started ASAP.

    @SBJ If the testing is old, his chances are extremely slim. As a rule, the ACT wants to see a 504/IEP in place for at least three years. If this isn't available, it's an absolute must to have current testing. @entertainer's suggestion of asking the school for testing is a good one. Also, if you have a university in your area, it might be worth a call to the psychology department to see if they have testing available on a sliding scale with students in training.

    I may be belaboring the point, but for everyone, a well-written report from the neuropsychologist is key. He/she should have the accommodations criteria in hand when writing it, as well as a copy of the student's 504/IEP. My clients are often surprised that the professional documentation they have in hand isn't sufficient. Quality has become much more important in recent years, and advocating for your child with the neuropsychologist is essential. I hope that that GAO report starts to spur some change, but it will unfortunately be too late for current students. It's just so frustrating for everyone!
  • OhioMom3000OhioMom3000 Registered User Posts: 2,063 Senior Member
    And as scmom12 mentioned, have you tried getting accommodations for SAT?
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,813 Senior Member
    If the accommodations are specific to a disability that's not addressed by a psychologist, are you saying they won't even look at that? Two of my son's issues-convergence insufficiency and diabetes-are physical in nature and not psychological. For the visual disability, my son's ophthalmologist has described the task of reading (for my son) as "running a race with a ball and chain around his leg." For that problem, nothing but more time or breaking the test into several days would help. Should we be very specific about what to ask for in that case?

    For the diabetes, my son would need to be able to stop the test if he needs to check his blood sugar or if there's a malfunction of his pump or something like that. And he needs to be able to take his supplies in with him (pump, pdm, sugar, checker).

    As far as his adhd, I have no clue if his current psychologist (he was tested by a gifted ed specialist 4 years ago but they aren't in our insurance and my dad paid for it since we didn't have the $$) would write a detailed report or not. Wouldn't it help if both the psychologist and the psychiatrist (the one who prescribes the meds) wrote letters? The both have done adhd profiles on my son and both say he has it, but whether they feel it would hinder test taking, I don't know. I'm more concerned about his visual disability, though I know his adhd hinders him in some ways.

    I guess I'm wondering if I should have all the professionals writing letters asking for one accommodation or if it's ok to ask for two different types?

    Thanks! I know I have a lot to research about this during the next month. My son will be a sophomore and I was thinking of letting him try the PSAT this fall at a local private school but I'm not sure.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,813 Senior Member
    And if I ask for accommodations this summer, how long is that good for? Would we need to reapply in the summer before his senior year if he wanted to do any tests senior year? I think I heard the testing is only good for two years?
  • OhioMom3000OhioMom3000 Registered User Posts: 2,063 Senior Member
    ^ You should let your son take the 10th and 11th grade PSAT (11th grade counts for National Merit). If he is eligible for accomodations for SAT, will also get them for PSAT, if you get them in time. But, it only really matters for 11th grade PSAT, so you do have time. 10th grade is practice.
  • swans004swans004 Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    @SBJ OH. Yes, that's a different story...since the OP was asking about cognitive issues that's where my head was! Again, they're going to be interested in what his school is already doing and will largely base the accommodations granted on that. Since you homeschool, you'll want to have a written IEP in place. Hopefully you already have one on file since the ACT really wants to see an IEP in place for at least three years (although I think this is more critical for cognitive/learning deficits than things like diabetes). Certainly a report from the ophthalmologist and endocrinologist will be helpful. Take a look at the accommodations section of the ACT website for information about the types of accommodations available. They will most likely mirror what his school (you!) does, but you may want to think about requesting extra breaks, a reader, etc. It's generally best to over-request...they probably won't allow everything, but it doesn't hurt to ask! His psych testing is going to be too old to be valuable by itself, but again, if your IEP allows accommodations based on ADHD he may still qualify. A student who is awarded accommodations will continue to receive them for subsequent testing dates. The process is different for the SAT & ACT. If you want to talk more specifics, PM me. I may be able to help.
This discussion has been closed.