How Updated Testing Affects the ACT and SAT

Today’s post comes from a good friend and colleague, Renee Becak.  I previously invited Renee to write about her role at my high school as the learning lab director and how private schools provide accommodations.

In addition to her role in the learning lab, Renee is also the testing coordinator for the high school.  She knows more about ACT and College Board than anyone else I know!  For students diagnosed with learning differences and/or other educational-impacting disabilities, the process for applying for accommodations on standardized tests can be daunting.  Here Renee provides an overview of the process and the importance of an updated neuro-psych report.

Take it away, Renee…

As a High School Learning Lab Director, I understand the importance of quality and valid assessments needed in order to apply for accommodations for ACT and College Board tests.  College Board oversees the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams, while ACT oversees the Pre-ACT and ACT exams.  College Board and ACT are two separate organizations that have different guidelines, processes and procedures, and in my opinion, College Board is easier to get accommodations for than ACT.  I personally submit the requests to these organizations and understand the red flags that are raised when requesting accommodations for a student.

The most important item to understand is what documentation is needed to submit your student’s accommodation request properly the first time.  The main piece of documentation needed is an updated neuropsychological report.  College Board and ACT have different documentation guidelines for how often the report must be updated, so it’s important to know how old your most recent testing report is.  Additionally, this report should contain diagnostic testing for the cognitive and academic achievement areas, as well as a DSM diagnosis.  Below are a few common reasons that students are denied accommodations from College Board and ACT.  These below statements are based on my own professional experience submitting requests over the last 7 years.

College Board:

  1. If your student is not currently enrolled in 504, Special Education or a Learning Lab program with an approved official accommodation plan in place.
  2. If your student is not currently approved and using the specific accommodation(s) you are requesting to have on College Board exams.

ACT:

  1. If your student’s documentation is not updated within the past three
  2. If your student is not currently enrolled in 504, Special Education or a Learning Lab program with an approved official accommodation plan in place.
  3. If your student has had an approved official accommodation plan in place for a year or less. (This mainly pertains to students who are juniors or seniors and diagnosed with ADHD).  *In this situation students will need to build up their case by presenting more data. Examples of data could be teacher/counselor recommendation letters and proof of use of extended time.
  4. If your student is not currently approved and using the specific accommodations you are requesting to have on College Board exams.

Students who come to me during the beginning of their junior year and want accommodations on the ACT and/or SAT without ever having been diagnosed will have a difficult time receiving these accommodations.  Timing is everything!

The important take-away from all this is if you suspect your child has a learning difference or other educational-impacting disability, it is in his or her best interest to get tested sooner rather than later.  Students must display a consistent use of accommodations in school to have the best chance possible of receiving accommodations from College Board or ACT.  A recent and valid neuro-psychological assessment is critical to make sure this process runs smoothly.

If you need a full neuro-psych assessment, contact us today!