Testing accommodations such as testing with extended time, extra and extended breaks, large-type or Braille test books for reading and seeing, among others, can be critical to a student’s success on standardized tests.  Receiving appropriate accommodations evens the playing field for all kinds of learners, essentially ensuring that each student has a fair and equitable starting point for excelling on these rigorous tests.

While it might be intuitive to the general public that students who have approved learning accommodations in school should also qualify for testing accommodations, this hasn’t always been the case.  Specifically, the ACT has been infamous for its selective process when it comes to allowing students to test with accommodations.  Unlike the College Board, which aligns itself with the accommodations that students qualify for in-school according to a student’s documented disability, the ACT’s process for receiving accommodations has historically been very particular and unpredictable.  The ACT has indeed considered a student’s documented disability, but not necessarily offered parallel accommodations on its exam. That is, until now!  

On July 21, 2021, the ACT announced that students who already receive accommodations at their school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act will automatically be eligible to receive the allowable testing accommodations when they register for the ACT with accommodations. The new process will begin with the 2021-22 testing year.

The ACT frames this move as one for educational equity, in that the policy change “simplifies and expedites the process for requesting accommodations, so that students can focus on learning all that they can in school and showing what they know on test day.”

Students already familiar with the accommodations approval process know how long and tedious the process can be with the ACT—and how, oftentimes, it can result in an unfair conclusion regardless of their current in-school accommodations and/or supporting documentation.  Students have had to often plan an entire year in advance just to ensure that they would be well-equipped for what they need on test day.  The ACT has additionally announced an end to these long processes, saying that it will update its system for requesting accommodations to require less information and documentation to support requests submitted on behalf of students with an IEP or 504 plan.

Currently, students who receive an IEP or 504 plan make up the majority of those who receive standardized testing accommodation. However, the ACT will continue to offer accommodations to those who do not have an IEP or 504 in accordance with the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA).

Here at Carnegie Prep, we are celebrating this news!  This change is a huge win for our students in eliminating one of the many arduous hurdles that students with learning differences already face in normative school systems. Our mission is dedicated to helping students achieve their full potential.  We understand that for some students, this means the necessary accommodations to ensure that they are well prepared to handle the rigors of test day.

If you have any questions about your test preparation plan, you are welcome to contact us at (203) 352-3500 or email us at [email protected]