Accommodations

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Testing accommodations are modifications made to tests or testing conditions that allow students with disabilities to fully demonstrate their aptitude while minimizing the effect of their disability.  Accommodations often include extended time, testing in an alternative/low-distraction environment, taking extra breaks, listening to questions read aloud to the test-taker, or having someone else record test answers.  

Many students go through the formal diagnostic process during childhood and are granted testing accommodations through an IEP or 504 Plan.  These students typically have a clear path toward seeking accommodations on high-stakes standardized testing (e.g., SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, etc.).  However, many other students reach high school, college, or beyond without ever going through this process.  Why?  Some parents choose not to pursue testing because they fear their child being labeled and singled out from their peers.  Some schools (especially private schools) provide informal accommodations without going through the formal documentation process, circumventing the need for neurocognitive testing.  Some students are able to manage their symptoms well enough in lower grades, when their cognitive abilities outweigh the demands placed on them – these are the children who often ace exams without studying.  As they get into higher grades, the balance shifts and they can no longer manage on their own.  

Why does this matter?  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a set of rules that ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to fairly compete for and pursue opportunities with their non-disabled peers.  People taking standardized tests (e.g., SAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, etc.) are entitled to fair testing accommodations under the ADA for a variety of disabilities.  The ADA requires testing entities to offer exams in a manner accessible to persons with disabilities, allowing the test taker to demonstrate their true ability/aptitude.  An individual with a disability is anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (such as seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, or thinking) or a major bodily function.  Diagnoses such as ADHD and Specific Learning Disorder are recognized under the ADA, though the disorder must significantly impact an individual’s life to qualify for protection/accommodations.  The ADA also specifically states that “a person with a history of academic success may still be a person with a disability who is entitled to testing accommodations.”

Despite this, most major testing boards (Bar Exam, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, SAT, etc.) require quantifiable data from neurocognitive testing to prove that an individual needs accommodations.  For example, if a person is requesting extra time on a test, the testing board typically wants to see evidence of slowed processing speed, slow reading rate, poor organizational skills, or other similar impairments.  The testing boards also want to see a documented history of the need for accommodations throughout one’s education – the rationale is that if a student has made it this far in their education without needing accommodations, then they certainly do not need the accommodations going forward.  

A formal accommodations evaluation through Triad Neuropsychology will provide you with the documentation necessary to pursue an accommodations request.  This evaluation process includes a clinical interview to gather necessary background information, cognitive testing (which varies based on the individual’s needs and/or diagnoses), and the gathering of collateral data in support of the individual (typically an interview and the completion of one or more questionnaires by a parent or spouse/partner).  Dr. Sedlak also provides an appeal letter if accommodations are partially or completely denied.  She has extensive experience requesting accommodations from a variety of testing boards, and she has an excellent success rate in having accommodations requests granted (especially with the NC Bar Examiner’s board).  She works closely with local schools to ensure students are provided with the necessary evaluation components and documentation to support their accommodations request.  

Please see the following resources for more information:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Info: https://www.ada.gov/resources/testing-accommodations/

Testing accommodations description: https://www.edglossary.org/test-accommodations/

ADHD and testing accommodations legal brief: https://chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ATTN_02_00_ADHDandTestAccommodations.pdf

Legal rights in higher education and workplace: https://chadd.org/for-adults/legal-rights-in-higher-education-and-the-workplace/

NC Bar Association Accommodations Process: https://www.ncble.org/special-testing-policy

MCAT Accommodations Process: https://students-residents.aamc.org/mcat-exam-accommodations/mcat-exam-accommodations

LSAT Accommodations Process: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/register-lsat/accommodations

GRE Accommodations Process: https://www.ets.org/gre/test-takers/general-test/register/disability-accommodations.html

SAT/ACT/AP Exams Accommodations Process: https://accommodations.collegeboard.org

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Before scheduling a full evaluation, Dr. Sedlak offers free, 15-minute phone consultations to answer your questions and ensure she can meet your needs.  You can book a consultation online by clicking on button below and following the instructions to book an appointment.  This Patient Portal Help Guide also provides step-by-step instructions. 

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