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Knowing About Assessment Accommodations

One of the ways to make sure you can show what you know on tests (one kind of assessment) is by using “testing accommodations.” Accommodations are changes in the way you take a test, without changing how well the test measures what it is supposed to measure. An assessment accommodation is provided to help “level the playing field,” not to give you an advantage over other students.

Types of Assessment Accommodations

There are many different kinds of assessment accommodations, such as providing a quiet room, allowing extra time, or having the test available in large print. You can find out more about how students across the U.S. are using assessment accommodations by going to the Web site of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO): http://www.education.umn.edu/nceo.

Here's a brief description of each type of accommodations:

Setting Accommodations

This is a change the location where an assessment is given or the conditions of the assessment setting.

For example, if you have a hard time focusing your attention in a group setting, or you need to take frequent breaks, you could request to take a test in a different room, either alone or in a small group. You may also need an individualized setting if you use special equipment like a tape recorder. Changes in settings could include special lighting, sound, or furniture that is changed to meet your needs.

Timing Accommodations

This is a change in the length of testing time given to students. It may also mean changing the way the testing time is organized.

For example, you might need extra time to process and understand information that is written, extra time to write your answers, or time to use certain equipment. You may also need breaks more often or for longer periods of time.

Scheduling Accommodations

This is a change in the time of day, day of the week, or number of days over which a test is given.

For example, if you are on medication that affects your concentration or your ability to stay alert for a test in the morning or afternoon, you may request taking the test during a different time of day.

Presentation Accommodations

This is a change in the way you take a test and includes changes in test format or procedures. It also includes the use of assistive devices. Some of these accommodations are controversial, especially in the area of having tests read aloud.

For example, you might need your test in large print or you may need to use a screen reader on a computerized test.

Response Accommodations

This is a change in how you might respond to the items on an assessment or test.

For example, this may include format alterations (e.g., marking responses in the test booklet rather than on a separate page), procedural changes (e.g., giving a response in a different way such as pointing, saying your answer out loud, or using sign language), and the use of assistive devices (e.g., someone else writes your responses, or using a brailler, a calculator, or some other communication device).

Other Accommodations

This includes anything else you might need in order to take the test or be part of the assessment

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Last updated on June 30, 2015

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