The Passport to Higher Education:  Disability Documentation That Students Need
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The Passport to Higher Education: Disability Documentation That Students NeedAddressing Achievement Gaps: Students with Learning Disabilities Transitioning from High School to CollegePrinceton, NJOctober 4, 2006Loring C. Brinckerhoff, Ph.D.Director, Office of Disability PolicyEducational Testing Service lbrinckerhoff@ets.org


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ETS Web Page That Students Need


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ETS Policy Statements for LD, ADHD, Psychiatric and That Students NeedPhysical Disabilities

  • ETS mission

  • Confidentiality statement

  • Qualified professional must conduct the evaluation

  • Documentation must be current

  • Documentation to support the diagnosis must be comprehensive

  • Documentation must include a specific diagnosis


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ETS Policy Statements for LD, ADHD, Psychiatric and That Students NeedPhysical Disabilities

  • Documentation must include a description of the current functional limitations

  • Actual test scores from standardized instruments must be provided

  • Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale

  • Alternative diagnoses or explanations should be ruled out


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Keep this Continuum in mind That Students Need

“a functional limitation that substantially limits”

“a learning problem”

“a glitch”

“a relative

performance deficit”


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Eligibility Considerations That Students Need

  • Does the test taker have a disability that necessitates testing accommodations?

  • Does the test taker receive accommodations in school or the workplace…based on the disability?

  • Does the documentation meet the criteria outlined in the ETS Policy Statements?


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Writing Quality Reports: That Students Need12 Pitfalls to Consider

  • Pitfall #1 - Documentation should be typed or printed on letterhead, dated, signed, and be legible with the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator.

  • Pitfall #2 - Documentation should be recent. Documentation should be no more than 5 years old for LD; 3 years for ADHD and 6 months for psychiatric disabilities.

  • Pitfall #3 - Documentation should include the reason for referral.


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Writing Quality Reports: That Students Need12 Pitfalls to Consider (cont.)

  • Pitfall #4 - Documentation should include a listing of all the tests that were used to establish the disability and to support the accommodation requests. Evaluation measures selected for the assessment battery should be reliable, valid, and age appropriate.

  • Pitfall #5 - Documentation should include developmental, educational, and medical histories.

  • Pitfall #6 - The diagnostic report should have a clear statement of the disability.


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Writing Quality Reports: That Students Need12 Pitfalls to Consider (cont.)

  • Pitfall #7 - It is important that the report includes a “rule-out” statement.

  • Pitfall #8 - The report should provide appropriate measures of achievement.

  • Pitfall #9 - Test results should be clearly stated with all subtests noted.


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Writing Quality Reports: That Students Need12 Pitfalls to Consider (cont.)

  • Pitfall #10 - The clinical summary should recap the high points, rule out alternative explanations, and summarize how the findings support any “substantial limitation” to a major life activity.

  • Pitfall #11 - Support for the requested accommodations must be tied to specific test results.

  • Pitfall #12 - Support for extended testing time should be specifically addressed by the evaluator.


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Accommodation Trends in High Stakes Testing That Students Need

  • Accommodation requests for licensure and high stakes exams are receiving greater scrutiny

  • Co-morbid diagnoses mean accommodation decisions are more complex

  • More documentation is being received from foreign countries

  • More requests by test takers to use the latest technology with the test

  • SOPs become part of documentation

  • “Relative performance deficits” aren’t cutting

    it for accommodations


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Determining Accommodations That Students Need

  • Section 504 requires “individualized

    determination” of accommodations requested

  • Blanket policies for any one disability group should be avoided

  • Past history of an accommodation may be relevant in making an accommodation decision

  • Testing agencies and disability service providers do not have to change their standards; or provide accommodations that are an undue hardship


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Reasonable Accommodations That Students Need

  • Additional time (1.5 or double time, typically)

  • Additional rest breaks

  • Larger font size, larger monitor;

    non-glare screen

  • Large print answer sheet

  • Audio tapes, or a reader


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Reasonable Accommodations (cont.) That Students Need

  • Scribe or keyboard entry aide

  • Quiet room with “a few others” or a separate room

  • Basic 4-function calculator

  • ETS Spell-checker

  • Other accommodations/courtesies considered

    • Colored overlays

    • Additional scratch paper

    • Multi-day testing


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Sources of Accommodation Conflicts That Students Need

  • Accommodation requests are too sweeping and include student’s learning preferences

  • Accommodations may be presented as a menu of options for students to try out and may not be supported by data

  • Evaluators often recommend multiple accommodations (i.e., a laundry list) for a specific functional limitation


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Sources of Accommodation Conflicts (cont.) That Students Need

  • Evaluators typically do not distinguish between study skills, remedial strategies, counseling, and ADA accommodations

  • Accommodation requests are couched in disability jargon and may not be warranted

  • Students often request accommodations they have used in the classroom for test-taking situations


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New ETS policy on LD and LD/ADHD Documentation Shelf Life That Students Need

  • A complete diagnostic reevaluation is no longer necessary for

  • basic accommodations (time and one half and/or additional rest

  • breaks) if ALL of the following apply:

  • Test taker has a longstanding learning disability, or learning disability with ADHD (LD/ADHD); and

  • Test taker has provided ETS with a signed Certification of Eligibility (COE) that attests that the documentation is written in accordance with the ETS Documentation Criteria using adult measures (e.g., WAIS-III, Woodcock-Johnson III, etc.); and

  • Test taker has a history of receiving accommodations on campus or on the job.

Source: www.ets.org