Accommodations for students in schools and on standardized testing is growing rapidly. It may come as a surprise to parents that among the most coveted “award” in the most highly ranking private prep schools and colleges these days is not necessarily “phi beta Kappa” but the “label” of “learning disability”. Otherwise known in public school lingo as “LD” or as “OHI” (other health impairment, meaning ADHD) or even ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
Over the years, the label of “learning disability” has evolved from a stigma to becoming an upfront and center characterization of bright but struggling students who perform below their potential and are looking for an explanation.
The good news:
Labels provide services and accommodations which serve to level the playing field for students with challenges. Far from being a “crutch” it opens the door to educational opportunities for all types of students.
In banishing stigmas from all mental illness, learning disability and pervasive developmental disorders, we, as a society have become more inclusive, more tolerant, and provide more opportunities for those who are slightly different. With open recognition, we can help children grow up to be powerful, efficacious and rightfully compete amongst the most educated groups in our population. This is so positive for our children and a step in the right direction for an evolved, tolerant society.
The not so good news:
It’s not so easy to obtain a label. Unfortunately, parents who know their children best, can initiate the process but can’t create the labels for their kids. It takes a good professional evaluation to highlight a child’s challenge areas as well as their strengths and to demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.
Testing can be through the school or an independent evaluation. A neuropsychological assessment will cover all areas of development and highlight key areas to target for remediation, accommodation or enrichment. This assessment will allow these accommodations to be considered for school, standardized testing as well as college and beyond into grad school.
The New News:
The College Board had recently decided that students do not need new evaluations in order to apply for accommodations for standardized testing. They now say that if a student is receiving certain accommodations, such as extended time, in high school, that will suffice to allow them to receive accommodations on the ACT or SAT. However, most schools will still require testing in order to make sure that kids do qualify at the school level.
BE AWARE! Colleges are becoming more strict about granting accommodations – even more than the College Board which provides SAT/ACT accommodations.
if a student has received accommodations on their previous standardized testing, this is no guarantee that they will receive the same accommodations in college without a recent test report.
if you suspect that your child is struggling or not meeting their potential in school, a neuropsychological/educational assessment is the best method of determining your child’s overall profile. You may not need to renew the testing every three years as in the past, but testing every five years is still recommended. Your child’s brain continues to grow and change over time so their profile and subsequent accommodations need to be re-examined periodically.
For more information on this issue, please go to my website:
Best wishes and remember to hug your kid today!
Dr. Rita Eichenstein
For more information on accommodations for testing on College Board exams – the SAT, SAT Subject tests, PSAT or AP tests – go to https://www.collegeboard.org/students-with-disabilities/eligibility