Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aspergers and Extended Time on ACT or SAT

If you are a parent of a student with autism or aspergers, a student with a learning disability of any kind, and/or a student with ADD, APPLY FOR EXTENDED TIME FOR THE ACT IN SOPHOMORE YEAR!!!

We are learning this the hard way.

Our son's high school advisor did all the necessary work to apply for extended time for his SAT test.  All I had to do was sign the thing.  Viola, a few weeks later, he received extended time, as he should have.  I thought this was just the way things were done.

Having heard that the ACT was a better test for kids with math/science interests, I began the application process for extended time on that test.  There was a lot more involved in the application process.  I provided a copy of his diagnosis from when he was four years old, as well as other documentation.  I sent the application back to our son's advisor/counselor for her to sign, and she sent the application on it's way to the ACT people.

This weekend, we got the rejection letter.

Apparently, over recent years, it has been the practice of wealthy parents to get a neuropsych exam done on their children to prove that their child has ADD, therefore receiving extended time on the ACT.  They then get the extra time WHEN THEY DON'T ACTUALLY NEED IT.

I had no idea, until now, that this was even a problem.

I've been doing a lot of research online about other people who have run into this problem (and apparently there are A LOT of us out there), and from what I can see, this is what we need to appeal the rejection of extended time on the ACT:

1.  A neuropsych evaluation -- with data that proves the student has a disability that affects their ability to do standardized tests in a timely manner
2.  Reports from their teachers specifically stating that the student actually USES extended time for tests -- preferably within the past year.
3.  Report from a special ed/resource teacher that verifies that the student needs extended time on standardized tests
4.  Possibly sending in something like a PSAT where the student DID NOT have extended time, showing a lower-than-average result (we have this).
5.  IEP's from elementary school and throughout the years proving a long-standing disability
6.  Diagnostic testing
7.  Basically, proof has to be made that there is daily impairment:

Under the ADA model, to get accommodation a student must demonstrate how his/her daily academic functioning is impaired. This is the new gold standard: evidence of functional impairment. According to the ADA, what may be a relative weakness may not indicate a true disability. Under this new ADA model, requests for accommodation for attention deficit disorders and many other types of disabilities are being denied left and right.  (

From what I can tell, the most important thing is to be able to prove that your son or daughter has needed extended time on tests WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS prior to taking the ACT.

This should be a warning call to any parents who are thinking that they should avoid special accommodations for standardized tests for their children.  You need those special accommodations, because without proof of using them, the ACT testing people can deny your child access to extended time on their test.

It would appear that denying extended time on the first application is standard.  Then, even with appeals, it seems that THREE APPEALS is the average needed to receive the accommodations for your student.  UGH.  There is the temptation to give up on this, which is exactly what the ACT people are hoping for.  My reasoning for NOT giving up, at least for now, is:

1)  This just bugs me.  I cannot believe that I am having to PROVE that my son has a disability, and that with all of his struggles, we have to FIGHT to get extended time on a college entrance exam, when he has already received extended time on a similar college entrance exam.
2)  The ACT has a history of being better at measuring math/science proclivities.  I have also read that this test may more accurately measure things students have been learning more recently in their high school experience.  Also, I thought that I have read that the ACT just seems to produce a better result for LD kids.
3)  If my son's ACT score is better than his SAT score (which is pretty average, or lower than average), then we can just submit that score instead of his SAT score.

I am really hoping that by writing this post, I can save some other people the trouble of finding out what is needed for an ACT extended time approval too late.  

The moral of this story is DON'T WAIT to apply for extended time.  Make your application during sophomore year, and document LIKE CRAZY the multiple situations in which your child has needed/used extended time for their standardized, and their regular, tests.

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At 4:11 PM, Blogger Real Mom said...

If it makes you feel better, my child who was way better at math and science scored way better on the SAT than the ACT. And same for me back in the 80's. I will have my now 13 yr old take both tests. But, I expect to see the same trend. Thanks for the heads on applying way early. We applied way early because the charter school wanted the kids taking these tests in 9th grade and above. It was not taken "officially" until 11th grade.

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