In the following interview, the College Board's Ms. Paula Kuebler answers questions on the College Board's policies and practices regarding accommodations for students with disabilities who wish to take the SAT I and II, PSAT/NMSQT, and Advanced Placement (AP) tests.
The College Board has provided accommodations for students with disabilities for many years. What would you say have been the two or three greatest successes the Board has had in meeting the needs of students with learning disabilities? What have been the greatest challenges?
Actually, the College Board was providing accommodations on its tests for students with disabilities even before the laws were enacted at the federal and state level to protect the rights of students with disabilities and to provide special educational opportunities for them. The numbers are so much greater now, and the needs increasingly varied, yet the Board, each year, continues to provide appropriate accommodations on all of its tests to students with disabilities.
There have been numerous accomplishments along the way to keep up with the increasing numbers of students diagnosed with disabilities who seek accommodations on our tests. For example, the Board coordinates requests for accommodations across the three major assessments — SAT I and II, PSAT/NMSQT, and Advanced Placement (AP) — thus removing a large amount of labor and paperwork from the students/parents and schools. Also, the Board works directly with schools and districts to help facilitate their students' eligibility for accommodations on our tests; when schools' processes and documentation align with the Board's guidelines, and the schools verify this, the Board accepts this rather than requiring a completely separate process.
The challenges are many. Most daunting is the scope of our task — ensuring that we can fairly address each student's individual needs. Also, equity of access to accommodations on our tests is a challenge trying to ensure that all students with disabilities who need accommodations will have access to our tests. And, finally, reserving our testing accommodations for students with disabilities, not others who simply might benefit from them.
The College Board did away with "flagging" the scores of students who were allowed accommodations (such as extended time, readers, etc.) on their SATs and other assessment tests. Has any research been done on whether this change has had any impact on the success or failure of students with disabilities in college or any impact on the admissions process overall?
The College Board plans to monitor the impact to determine if there are changes in numbers among groups of students who took College Board tests before and after removal of the nonstandard designation. Due to privacy concerns, among other factors, the College Board, however, is not in a position to monitor and evaluate college performance of individual students.