Starting January 1, 2017, SAT Accommodations Will Be More Easily Obtained

Finally, the College Board makes it easier for students with disabilities to get SAT accommodations

For many years, students with disabilities and their counselors often complained about how hard it is to win testing accommodations during the administration of the SAT, Advanced Placement and other standardized exams from the College Board. That’s going to change, the organization said.

The College Board, which owns the SAT, just announced that starting Jan. 1, “the vast majority” of students who have special-education plans that already include accommodations for testing — such as extra time, sitting in a separate room, and/or having the test read to the student — will receive automatic approval for the same accommodations when taking the SAT, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT subject tests and AP exams.

College counselors expressed delight at the changes, with some noting that they will especially help students who do not have the resources to fight the College Board for accommodations. In the past, winning accommodations for the SAT was often a timely and laborious process requiring extensive documentation of a disability.

Early this year, as more states began to adopt the SAT or the ACT as a required test for high school students to take, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began to look into complaints that the testing organizations were too stingy with accommodations to eligible students, Education Week reported.

In a new statement, David Coleman, president and chief executive of the College Board, said: “Educators, students, and families have asked us to simplify our process, and we’ve listened. The school staff knows their students best, and we want to cut down on the time and paperwork needed to submit a testing accommodations request.”

Changes are also being made to providing testing supports to English as a Second Language students. The statement said that starting Jan. 1, “ELL students taking a state-funded SAT during the school day will have access to testing instructions in several native languages and approved word-to-word bilingual glossaries.” Next fall, they can also receive extended testing time (up to time and a half) and the opportunity to test in an environment with reduced distractions, it said.

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Private-school students with the kinds of specific plans given to students with disabilities by public schools can use a “current, formal school-based plan” to seek identical accommodations.

It seems worth noting that the College Board used the occasion of announcing its new policy to take a dig at its competitor, the ACT. The statement said:

These changes build on the College Board’s recent work to level the playing field for students, including offering students 43% more time per question on the SAT than on the ACT and giving all students access to free, personalized Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy so they can feel confident and prepared on test day.

The SAT long reigned as the leading college admissions exam — at least until 2012, when enrollment for the ACT outpaced it for the first time. The ACT has remained No. 1 since then, and the SAT has been redesigned to look more like the ACT, seen as a more consumer-friendly exam linked more to school curriculums.

Is there a difference between a Learning Disability and Dyslexia?

A learning disability in reading and/or written language is the same as Dyslexia.  Both are labels used when an individual has difficulty in learning to read, write or interpret words and/or language.   To be dyslexic or have a learning disability, these difficulties cannot be due to a physical/medical condition (e.g., hearing loss), poor school attendance or poor instruction.

At What Age Should Students Have Their Own Informing Sessions?

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with staff from The Hewitt School here in NYC.  The learning specialist for the middle school wondered about my policy of having informing sessions for students age 13 years and above.  She suggested that younger students could benefit from having their own informing sessions.

The frontal lobes, the presumed seat of executive functions, are almost fully developed at age 13.  I assumed that starting at age 13 students would be most able to process information about their learning styles and recommended interventions and strategies.  Also, for students below 13 years, I employ a token system (pennies that are eventually exchanged for prize) to maintain attention and concentration during the evaluation.  I found that offering feedback at the end of the evaluation helped to maintain attention and concentration in older students.  Thus, my policy.  However, I am seriously considering offering informing sessions beginning at Grade 5 and, as usual, making the final decision in concert with parents.

Feedback and comments would be appreciated.

What is an IQ?

You can’t hold IQ in your hands.


Intelligence, IQ, general cognitive functioning or intellectual potential is not tangible.  It is a construct.  IQ tests are the test writer’s idea of what behaviors or skills represent intelligence.  Some tests are constructed to assess language and academic achievement.  Some tests assess nonverbal or visual skills and visual reasoning.  Some tests involve handwriting and/or fine motor skills while others are motor-free.  Other tests are strongly affected by culture, while still others attempt to negate any cultural bias.

The most widely known and used IQ tests are the Wechsler Intelligence Scales.

  • the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)
  • the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
  • the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)

The next most commonly used test of intelligence

  • Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales

Other less commonly employed IQ Tests

  • Leiter International Performance Scale
  • Matrix Analogies Test
  • Nagliari Nonverbal Ability Test
  • Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test
  • Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test
  • Cognitive Assessment System
  • Differential Abilities Scale
  • Ravens Progressive Matrices

This list of IQ or Intelligence Tests is not exhaustive.

What is Neuropsychology?

When I was a Special Education teacher, prior to getting my Ph.D. in Neuropsychology, I belonged to a multi-disciplinary professional association called, Orthopsychiatry.  At a conference, one of the participants performed a song that she wrote entitled, “What in the world is Orthopsychiatry?”  I still am not certain what Orthopsychiatry means but I do remember that song.  I am frequently asked, “What is Neuropsychology?” and “What do you do?”.  Without a song to sing about it, answering those questions seemed like a really good place to start my blog.

What in the world is Neuropsychology?

In a nutshell, it is the study of how the brain governs behavior, thinking and emotions.

What do I do?

I evaluate disorders, problems or issues that first appear in childhood.

  • Learning Disabilities
  • ADHD,
  • Speech and Language Disorders
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Behavior
  • Emotional Functioning

My evaluation provides a roadmap about the individual’s learning style.

  • Cognitive strengths and weaknesses
  • Academic levels
  • Behavioral and emotional functioning

Based upon this “roadmap” I can:

  • describe the nature and extent of existing developmental issues.
  • Prescribe interventions
    • What is the best way to teach this individual?
    • What school placement?
    • What support services?
    • Referral for medication
    • Assisted technology
  • Refer to allied professionals