Accommodations are strategies, materials and/or services that are provided to help “level the playing field” for a student. Accommodations do not change the curriculum: all Burroughs students are expected to complete all of the work and take the same tests as their peers. However, students may be granted accommodations that enable them to more effectively demonstrate their knowledge on daily work and tests. Some examples of accommodations include the use of an audio text to accompany written text for a learning disability in reading, and enlargement of text or access to an alternative means of taking notes for a visual disability.
Extended Time of School Tests
A common accommodation is extended time on tests. For those students for whom a disability prevents them from completing tests within the same time constraints as other students, additional time may be granted to help them demonstrate their knowledge. To take a test with extended time does not mean, however, that a student will necessarily finish every test—just as students taking long tests within classrooms may not finish.
Extended-time tests are generally administered in the Academic Support Department. Students are responsible for signing up in advance. Tests are scheduled online. Students must give the teacher a test slip at least two days before the test. (See Appendix C: Signing up for Tests Online in Canvas; Appendix D: Sample Test Slip.) The process is constructed so that teachers have ample time to get the test to Academic Support, and the Academic Support Department can ensure that a staff person is available to proctor the test.
Ideally, students take their tests in one sitting by taking the additional time from a study hall or free period adjacent to the test. First period tests should be started before school and finished during first period. If a student is unable to complete a test in one sitting due to logistical concerns, additional procedures are in place to insure test-taking integrity.
In the case of a split test (a test not taken in one sitting), students are asked to leave all class materials and any devices with internet capability in Academic Support for the duration of the test. They sign a testing integrity statement that they will not discuss the test with others or access content material until the test is completed. Students may not take lunch in the middle of a test. Additional time for split tests may be scheduled before school, or during a free period, lunch or after school (See Appendix F: Split Test Flowchart). If a student uses part or all of the lunch period to take a test, the student still gets lunch. No one goes without lunch because they’re taking a test!
Students who violate the procedures or requirements put in place to protect test-takers from even the appearance of impropriety are subject to losing their accommodations; they also face any discipline that may accompany an integrity violation.
Academic Support is also responsible for monitoring other testing that involves accommodations. All finals, AP, and junior-level PSAT testing for individuals who qualify for accommodations are proctored by Academic Support. Students are informed individually by email about the procedure for signing up for these tests.
Students with disabilities may qualify for extended time on standardized tests. Students must apply to the College Board (which is responsible for the PSAT, SAT, SAT subject tests, and AP exams) and/or ACT to be granted accommodations based on their requirements, whether or not the student receives accommodations at Burroughs. It’s important to note that it’s the testing agencies, not Burroughs, which determine what accommodations will be made available to the student.
Both testing agencies require that students requesting accommodations have a diagnosis that impacts learning. A current evaluation report by a qualified professional is part of the documentation that must be submitted with the request. The student’s learning profile from Burroughs is also sent as part of the packet of information. The school has to certify that the accommodations requested have been used at school for at least four months. Approval for accommodations through one agency does not necessarily mean approval will be granted from the other agency. The accommodations granted may also not be as extensive as the accommodations provided at Burroughs.
It is important that the process is started early with either agency. Requests for accommodations may take up to seven weeks for approval. Requests that are made at the time of the test’s registration deadline may not give the agency sufficient time to process them.
9th Grade: Students who are taking SAT subject area tests for biology sign up for College Board tests their first year of high school.
10th Grade: Students who are taking SAT subject area tests for chemistry sign up for College Board tests their sophomore year.
Most students do not take the sophomore PSAT with accommodations, as it is just a practice test and the score does not count.
11th Grade: During their junior year, students seeking to test with accommodations need to have their accommodations approved by the College Board for the PSAT in October and the SAT or AP tests in the spring. Students apply for ACT accommodations during their junior year through a different process.
The College Board
The PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Area Tests, and Advanced Placement (AP) tests are administered through the College Board. Once a student is approved for accommodations, the approval is good for all College Board tests. The College Board issues a unique SSD number for each student that is used for each test registration.
The College Board process:
- A “permission to share information” form must be signed and on file at JBS. (See Appendix G: College Board Consent.)
- The Academic Support Department submits a student’s information to the College Board.
- The decision to grant accommodations is made by the College Board, not by Burroughs. Burroughs helps facilitate the process and advocates for the student, but the school has no say in the decision-making process. It can take up to seven weeks for a decision to be made by the College Board on an accommodation request. It is important that the process starts early enough to allow time for a decision to be made. Each summer, Academic Support submits accommodation requests for students who have returned their “permission to share information” forms. We follow up with the remaining students on our return to school.
- The College Board typically notifies the Academic Support Department of its decision, and a letter is sent to the family. The student may also receive an email from the College Board.
- The first College Board test students typically encounter is the PSAT in October. However, for sophomores, the score does not count, so there is little benefit to taking it with time accommodations. Consequently, most sophomores in Academic Support do not take it with accommodations. Doing so still allows them to familiarize themselves with the format and test-taking procedures, even without extended time. The following year, as juniors, students who qualify always take the PSAT with accommodations because, although still a practice test, it is used as the National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test.
Most students take the ACT beginning in the spring of their junior year. Doing so gives them multiple opportunities to retake the test if they chose.
The ACT process for requesting accommodations is different from the College Board:
- A “permission to share information” form must be signed and on file at JBS. (See Appendix H: ACT Consent to Release Form.)
- Students must register for an ACT test online before making a request for accommodations. Students who are taking the ACT should register as soon as a date for testing is released on the ACT website, so that there is enough time for ACT to process their accommodations request.
- ACT notifies both the school and the student that additional information is required for accommodations. Academic Support gathers the requested information and sends it in, often the same day.
- It can take up to seven weeks for a decision to be made during peak times. Again, students should sign up as early as possible so sufficient time is available to appeal the decision.
- A letter regarding ACT’s decision is sent to the family and the school.
- Subsequent ACT tests for which the student registers do not require an additional request for accommodations, but may still require Academic Support to update the student’s information with the new testing date to link the accommodations and the test.