Parents of high school students with mild to moderate learning issues often ask us how to get extended time and other testing accommodations for the SAT or ACT. Unfortunately, it can be a frustrating, arbitrary process, with many procedural roadblocks.
While each student is different, we thought it would be interesting to discuss one client’s experience, to illustrate the process:
Marisa H. was diagnosed with a processing speed issue early in 10th grade. Comprehensive testing was done by an educational psychologist, reviewed with her school’s Special Education committee, and she received a 504 plan with 50% extra time on tests, and several other in-school accommodations. The road to accommodations on national college tests has not been smooth, however.
- After applying to the College Board in the spring of 10th grade, she was turned down. Two appeals and extensive documentation was needed before extra time was approved, just in time for her PSAT in 11th grade but too late for her AP exam at the end of 10th grade. (Note: the second appeal included an appeal letter written by the psychologist who did her testing).
- The ACT was even more difficult. She has been turned three times so far … not because she doesn’t have a demonstrated disability with academic impact — she does — but her paperwork has been deemed incomplete each time! The first hurdle has been getting her school guidance department to send in a complete packet!
As a parent, all of this takes time and perseverance. To be a strong advocate for your child, start early, learn the documentation requirements, and get advice from someone who knows the process if you need it.
In Part Two of this series, we will offer a checklist of what to do if you need to apply for SAT and ACT testing accommodations for your child.