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SAT/ ACT Accommodations- How'd those kids end up doing in college?

LuckyPierreLuckyPierre Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited July 2013 in Parents Forum
Just curious. I knew two kids (hs class of 2011) whose parents worked like crazy to get them accommodations on their SAT's and ACT's. They both got a bunch of extra time on the tests. They ended up doing pretty well on the tests, got into better schools than anybody expected, went to those schools and totally flamed out (both kids, different schools).

Just wondering about an informal survey here: Did kids who got accommodations on college board tests end up as successful college students?

Also wondering if the majority of people who pursue accommodations for their kids are wealthy upper middle class types from privileged backgrounds who know how to work the system?

Both kids were given accommodations for ADD/ADHD issues. I knew these kids, they were not interested in working hard, they were screw offs, and they totally thought they'd scammed the system with the extra time on the tests. Both parents pursued the accommodations appeals into college, but at that point neither kid was interested in doing any work at all. Both sets of parents lost a year's tuition trying to make it work. Now their kids are back at home (one working a menial job, one not working at all). Their hs peers are all starting junior year, halfway done with undergrad.

I just was wondering, if they had just taken the tests without the accommodations, would they have scored in such a way that the colleges they then looked at attending were a better fit for their abilities?
Post edited by LuckyPierre on

Replies to: SAT/ ACT Accommodations- How'd those kids end up doing in college?

  • smartdancersmartdancer Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    I can't speak for these kids. But I do know smart kids with accommodations who work extra hard to overcome disabilities and who I'm sure will achieve great things.
    Don't stereotype.
  • JoblueJoblue Registered User Posts: 1,251 Senior Member
    My child qualified for accommodations on the SATs due to being diagnosed with ADD and executive function problems. She refused to take any of the prescribed medications and "forgot" to register for the accommodations (extra time) when she arrived for the test, so she took it in the same time as everyone else. Resulted in a 2270 score. Do you think that if she took the meds and the extra time she'd have gotten a better score (maybe 2300+)?

    For the record, she was admitted to an honors college and has done well (absolutely no meds, but accommodations for extra time). Do you think we scammed the system? Why are you so concerned with these other families?
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    I'm reminded of a favorite saying: "If the sheep aren't on the farm, then no amount of time will help you catch them." The students performed as well as they did because they knew the answers and marked them correctly. Students struggle in college for all kinds of reasons, but I don't think that extended time can be blamed.
  • JRCLMomJRCLMom Registered User Posts: 64 Junior Member
    I want to offer a different perspective. My husband was diagnosed with a learning disability when he was 28. His parents suspected something was wrong, but never got him tested. Obviously, he got no accommodations, and his SAT scores didn't reflect his IQ of 147.

    IMO, he only got accepted into engineering school because his brother went there, and his parents paid full freight. He busted his tail, graduated, and got his master's. He's so used to working twice as hard as everyone else, it's natural to him now. He has a successful career.

    My point is, accommodations can be a good thing, but they don't guarantee success, just as the lack of them doesn't guarantee failure. I figure, if you try to game the system, it'll bite you in the butt, as it did for the parents who contributed to getting their kids into colleges where they didn't belong. I don't begrudge students who need a little extra time--I consider myself fortunate to NOT need it for my kids. The parents you mention might have done better to help their children develop a good work ethic and study habits. Or even aim lower, get some success under their belt, and then move to a harder college.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,757 Senior Member
    I know kids who had SAT accommodations that were very fair, who had some accommodations at college that were also very fair and never overused, but that truly leveled the playing field. They worked hard and thrived, not only in ways of benefit to themselves, but of benefit to others. Maybe you should do some reading on the purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    I also know many other students who had no accommodations on the SAT and "flamed out" at college.

    It is very difficult to get accommodations on the SAT's, by the way.
  • smartdancersmartdancer Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    What if everyone had extra time? What if everyone had to endure not only a 5+ hour test, but multiple 5+ hour practice tests in order to build focus and endurance? How many kids would want that? How many times would kids want to retake such a monster test?
    Think about it and be glad you don't need the time.
  • MommaJMommaJ Registered User Posts: 5,714 Senior Member
    My D qualified for extra time on the SAT, just graduated college, and will be attending a highly selective master's degree program. We didn't "work the system". She had been diagnosed years before high school, and her guidance counselor helped with securing the accommodation. Feel better?
  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 32,638 Senior Member
    Our kids both had accommodations for SAT and the excellent U they attended. It was so they could lie down as needed between sections of the exam and drink water as needed, so they could make it through the entire exam. They got these because of chronic health conditions they had from the age of 12. It was NOT easy to get them for SAT nor their U. Both kids have worked very hard and have graduated with bachelor's degrees. S has a great job with his EE degree and D will start looking soon.

    Neither kid used the accommodation unless absolutely needed but were glad they had it, just in case.

    The only folks I know who have SAT accommodations have well-documented need for it, as presented to College Board and certified by HS. The student still must take the exam and answer the Qs. Kids who do have chronic conditions can also have more difficulty completing their full course load, especially in getting a degree in 4 years. There are many kids who burn out in college, with and without health conditions (many of which are totally invisible)..
  • kayfkayf Registered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    Just graduated great school, GPA good, but not great (north of 3)
  • testobsessedtestobsessed Registered User Posts: 229 Junior Member
    I actually think that the SAT and ACT should be untimed, for everyone.
    I also think students should be able to move on to the next section whenever they want. College courses don't require that you spend equal time working on all subjects, and the ability to put in some extra time on the stuff that is most challenging to you is an important tool for success.
    Sounds revolutionary, I know. But it would mirror the idea of multiple assignments in different subjects - aka a pile of work, like one gets in college. Kids could use their own strategies to get it done. Those more likely to skip out early on college homework would probably do so in the test, too, so scores would reflect a range of what is needed to succeed in college: reasoning skills, book learning, intelligence- yes, but also perseverance, motivation, hard work, goal-orientation. I bet this system would be a better predictor of college success.
    Too much obsession with timing, in my view.
  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 Registered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    I have learning and physical disabilities that affected my ability to take the test, and I could NOT get accommodations on the ACT no matter how much documentation we could produce. I got a 23 without accommodations, but had to go to community college because my average grades ( 2.8 GPA, a bit less than average I'd say!) and test scores were not good enough for scholarships. I retook the ACT as a college freshman (with a 3.7 college gpa) and got something like a 32, I forget... I remember I bombed the writing portion and I am sure it was because my essay wasn't remotely legible even to me, since they didn't accommodate my physical disability. It worked out okay anyway.

    I went on to a "great" college where I got average grades by the skin of my teeth. There was one point where I was so buried I called my adviser and told him if he couldn't help me fix it I was going to walk over to the university hospital and check myself into the psych ward because I couldn't handle it anymore-- and I meant it. The material was the perfect level for me and I loved it so much, but there was just too much of it for me to juggle with my particular set of disabilities. I would have been okay if I could have gone part time, but I couldn't afford the extra time in school. Remember I got into this school with my unaccommodated 32 ACT, so it's not like my accommodations painted a false picture of my abilities.

    I don't really think accommodations are a predictor of much. Every disability (or non-disability) is different, as is the person's level of ability to cope and compensate-- and that is fluid and changes over the years. I needed them and didn't get them once and didn't perform as well as I could, another time I needed them and didn't get them and still performed REALLY well, and then I got to college-- where I think I nearly died, but I DID maintain a B average-- is that crashing and burning or isn't it? I think you could make the argument either way... I did well enough but it was at a great cost.

    Not to mention that the skills required to take a test are drastically different from the skills required to do well in college. Apart from my difficulty with the writing portion due to my physical disability, my test taking skills have always been top notch. My day-to-day "school" skills have always been terrible. The two do not correlate. A student without a disability whose parents try to cut corners for them on the ACT/SAT may very well be a good student and a horrible test taker, they are not necessarily going to crash when they get to college-- or they might. I think it makes us feel better to think people suffer when they try to game the system, but I don't think that is necessarily the reality and I think it's perilous to attempt this conversation without saying anything mortally offensive to those of us with real disabilities who are brilliant but would drown without something to level the playing field. You wouldn't ask a person in a wheelchair to pull themselves up a flight of stairs by their arms, even if technically they could do it-- you'd mandate that public buildings must have ramps. I don't see this as any different.

    It really, really makes me mad when people without disabilities try to game the system, but I don't believe this happens as much as we think it does. When I consider how many people I know who have genuine disabilities and couldn't get accommodations, I have a hard time believing too many people are finding a way to cheat a system we can't even take advantage of when it was made for us. And there are so many people with disabilities you can't really see, who hide it well, who can compensate, who pretend like they are lazy even though they aren't just so people won't think they're stupid... you just never know. It's better to focus on your own kid and not pass judgment.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,488 Senior Member
    As someone said, many students with learning disabilities have been working hard to compensate for the disability for years. Having some extra time on the timed tests simply reflects what they need to reflect their abilities. Most have learned how to balance classes that where they need extra time with classes they have fewer problems. This behavior generally follows them into college and in many cases once they get past the required classes they can excel, simply because they have learned very good study behaviors from years of having to work alittle harder.

    At least that has been our experience, our LD kid is a much better 'student' in terms of balance, study, reaching out for help, advocating, allowing for the extra "study" time he needs to get through heavy reading material etc. He was hurt in the college acceptances from a couple purely numbers driven schools simply because his composite, even with extra time, reflected his LD much as it had from K-12, even with extra time there was great disparity. It makes me sad, because I know he would have done fine at at least one of the schools that said no thanks, but it doesn't harm him.

    Students that have not learned how to compensate for their disability. Have not learned how to work through the issues head off to college with the same issues. The potential rise on their standardized test scores is a blip. It really doesn't matter if they get into a more selective college or not since they will carry into any college the inability to deal with their disability (or imagined disability). The parents shot themselves in their own foot, (shrug).
  • amarylandmomamarylandmom Registered User Posts: 631 Member
    My nephew got accommodations. He scored perfectly on his SATs and got a full ride scholarship to a top 20 (non Ivy) university. He's now in medical school (also a top school).

    I know two other kids who also got accommodations. One is very bright and is scoring in the very high 700s on all three parts of the SAT. He has yet to start college, but is a straight A student in his private high school. The other one seems to be doing fine, but he hasn't started college yet. Both sets of parents of these boys had NO problems whatsoever getting the accommodations . . .the kids saw some kind of private person who does assessments, and they got the extra time in short order (both in junior year of high school).

    My only issue with the accommodations is that I don't understand why it isn't provided to students with low IQ. Don't they have it as hard as anyone? All three of the examples above have "slow processing" - - meaning they are bright, but I guess their brains don't process as fast as some. I just don't understand how processing speed is considered an impairment that merits additional time, but lower intelligence does not.

    I like testobsessed's idea. Make the test challenging and give the students the time they want to complete it. Why is speed important?
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom Registered User Posts: 8,631 Senior Member
    OP - Those sound like kids that might have floundered at any college.

    If they indeed needed accommodations, it's unfortunate they did not pursue them. I have an ADHD-ish kid that happened to do be a good test taker (SAT 2240 w/o extra time)... but college did not work out the first try. Organization coaching would have helped, but challenged 18 year olds are often too stubborn to accept help.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Amarylandmom, speed is a control because learning differences probably mean that your brain does not process the information in an efficient manner.
    Think of a card catalog where everything is misfiled and you have to open all the drawers to find the card for the book you wanted.
    Not only that, but this process is so exhausting, that even if you had unlimited time, its likely after several hours you would be unable to continue.
    In college & in the workplace, accomodations and adjustments can be made more readily than in a testing situation.

    My oldest had accomodations in high school- although it was a private school and the accomodations were not formal. But the school had a learning specialist/coach and she met with him every day. She also had extended time for the SATs, although it was easy to get, because it was noted on her scores.
    She attended one of the most rigourous lacs in the country, graduated with a stem degree and finished grad school in '12.

    Her sister also had accomodations in high school, but as it was public, she had an IEP and later a 504. It was difficult to get accomodations for the test, but after sending about 10 lbs of paperwork they finally conceded. She is doing great in college, just barely missed 4.0 last qtr.
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