Juniors and seniors in high school are beginning to finalize their plans for entering the world of college and post-secondary education. The college admissions process typically involves taking the ACT and/or SAT entrance exams in the spring of the junior year and again in the fall of the senior year. Knowing your rights as a student with a disability and being proactive will enable you to complete the testing to the best of your abilities.
Before you schedule your exams, you will need to determine what accommodations are necessary which can help demonstrate your strengths and abilities to their fullest capacity. There are specific test applications which must be completed in order to request any allowable accommodations. A copy of your current (as well as past) Individualized Education Plan or your Section 504 Accommodation Plan will be used to determine which accommodations are necessary. A student may or may not be eligible to receive testing accommodations if the accommodations are not noted or are not used in the school setting on a regular basis. Check with your school counselor or visit www.actstudent.org and www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student for additional information.
Test-taking accommodations also apply to short placement tests used by community colleges. The Assessment of Skills for Successful Entry and Transfer (ASSET) and the Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS) are often used to help identify specific student strengths and needs. Both of these test situations permit accommodations for students with disabilities. However before the test is taken, the application for use of testing accommodations must be approved.
The accommodations for the SAT, ACT, ASSET and COMPASS may include the following:
- Individual administration of the test
- Audiocassette tape or large print test editions
- Special answer sheets
- Extended testing time and breaks
- An interpreter
- Braille editions
As a student with a disability it is important for you to become a self-advocate while you are still in high school as this will help you to succeed in college. At the college level, you will be responsible for your education including identifying and requesting support services such as testing accommodations, tutoring services and extended time. Colleges and post-secondary institutions prefer to work directly with the student and typically will not share information with the parents.
After graduation from high school or over the age of 22, students with disabilities are no longer protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and no IEP follows the student through the college years. A student with a past history of a disability is granted accommodations under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act so it is important that the student become familiar with their educational needs so that services may be requested from the college or post-secondary school.