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Applying for Accommodations on College Entrance Tests

IDA FACT SHEET  (International Dyslexia Association)

The application process for individuals planning to enter college can be a daunting experience. For individuals with disabilities who are requesting testing accommodations, this can be even more challenging, as it often requires assembling necessary documentation, completing additional paperwork, and anticipating deadlines. This IDA Fact Sheet gives a broad overview of the process in order to assist individuals who are requesting test accommodations on high stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT. It provides guidance about what forms to submit, how to provide sufficient disability documentation, and how to gather supplemental information if needed to support accommodation requests. Keep in mind that each testing agency sets its own requirements for requesting accommodations.

The Application Process

  • Test takers should read the test information on the program’s website. Many tests are administered on computer and incorporate functions such as a built-in calculator, clock, etc. Additionally, most testing agencies provide supplemental information or a handbook for test takers with disabilities.
  • The testing agency website will give specific information about how to apply for accommodations. This should be read carefully to determine which accommodations are necessary (e.g., additional testing time, or breaks, separate room, a reader, etc.).
  • Special Services and/or counseling staff in the student’s high school or district may be able to assist in completing the application and acquiring the required documentation.
  • Early submission of applications is important, as it’s not unusual for testing agencies to request additional scores, updated testing, or clarification, which can cause delays. This is particularly true during peak application periods.
  • Once the agency receives an application for accommodations, it may be two months before the applicant is notified. If additional testing or an appeal is needed, all this must be accomplished and submitted at least 60 days in advance of the test date.
  • Since most testing agencies no longer “flag” scores obtained under non-standard conditions, it is important to request accommodations that are needed.

Documentation

  • Typically, all documentation should be sent in one complete packet. This pertains to supporting documentation (IEP, transcripts, letters re: past accommodations).
  • Testing agencies often require current documentation according to their individual “recency” criteria. For example, many testing agencies request documentation for learning disabilities to be dated within the last three to five years to reflect the test taker’s need for specific accommodations. Test takers should review the documentation guidelines posted on the website.
  • Often, a current, comprehensive evaluation is needed, as an adult version of some tests may be required. For example, most testing agencies will not accept a handwritten prescription-pad note from a doctor. Documentation should be complete, dated, signed, in English, and on official letterhead. Disability documentation should address all of the following:
    • The existence of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, as compared to most people in the general population
    • A diagnosis of the disability and the current impact of impairment and how it limits the student’s ability to take the test under standard conditions
    • A rationale for why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate. For example, if extra time is requested, the evaluation must say how much extended time should be provided and on what basis.
    • The accommodations that are requested should generally match those provided in the past.
  • Some accommodations may not require prior approval, such as braces or crutches, eyeglasses, insulin pump, etc. Lockers that can be accessed during breaks are typically provided for storage of food, water, and/or medication, if applicable.
  • If sufficient disability documentation is unavailable or outdated, it may take up to nine months in advance to find a qualified professional with a qualified professional with experience and expertise in diagnosing and documenting the disability in question. That evaluator will need relevant historical information, including:
    • Letters documenting a history of accommodations in school, such as IEPs or 504 plans, or proof of accommodations on statewide assessments.
    • A description of tutoring or coaching services provided in the past.
    • A comprehensive evaluation report for diagnosis of the disability and accommodation determination.
  • Additionally, school records from elementary and high school as well as teacher comments will help support a history of a disability. High school transcripts may provide good evidence if they showed the impact of the disability on grades (e.g., dropped classes, withdrawals, incompletes, or failing grades). It is not always the case that accommodations in the past will automatically continue. An ongoing need for accommodations can be described in a personal statement.
  • Many colleges and universities with strong school psychology programs perform evaluations at a reduced fee if a private evaluation is not feasible.

Types of Decision Letters

There are three basic types of decision letters that the testing agency sends:

  1. Approval—This type of letter will list the accommodations that have been approved.
    • Once accommodations have been approved, directions on the approval letter regarding how to schedule the test and other pertinent information.
    • Be aware that extra time may be needed to schedule the test after approval for accommodations. For example, extra time may be needed to secure a reader or scribe.
  2. Request for Additional Information—This type of letter is not a denial of the request. It specifies that the agency needs more information to complete the review.
  3. Denial—If the testing agency finds the documentation insufficient to support the accommodation request, this letter will explain the decision and will include options for requesting further review.
    • Appeal Process: Each testing agency has established a procedure to allow an appeal of its decision. The information on how to appeal a decision is typically stated in the denial letter or on the agency’s website. When the requested information is submitted, the request will be reconsidered.

Preparing for the Test

Whether or not an accommodation request is approved, it is important for the student to become familiar with the upcoming test.

  • Most testing agencies have a wide range of practice materials at no or low cost available to test takers.
  • Areas of particular focus are the test format, the types of questions used, and the test directions for each type of question. This can reduce the amount of time spent familiarizing oneself with instructions on the test day. Alternate-format practice materials can be requested if this is one of the desired accommodations.
  • The sample test questions can be practiced with and without the requested accommodations. The goal is to increase the number of questions correctly completed within the time limit. As you practice, try to increase the number of questions you can complete correctly within the time limit.
  • Test sites differ, so it is a good idea to check out the location in advance.

Resources


The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) thanks Loring Brinkerhoff, Ph.D., Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., BCET, CALT-QI, and Diana Sauter, Ph.D., for their assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.


© Copyright The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). For copyright information, please click here.  IDA site: https://dyslexiaida.org 

Reading / writing tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes

[O-G tutoring; in NW Columbus OH : 614-579-6021 ; see more below] 

2016 Summer Teacher Institutes

Teaching with Primary Sources

The Library of Congress is now accepting applications for its week-long summer institutes for K-12 educators. Held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., this professional development opportunity provides educators with tools and resources to effectively integrate primary sources into K-12 classroom teaching, with an emphasis on student engagement, critical thinking, and construction of knowledge.

The Library is offering five programs this summer. Four of the programs are open to teachers and librarians across all content areas. One focuses on primary sources in science, technology and engineering. During each five-day institute, participants work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.

General Institutes – open to K-12 educators across all content areas:

June 27-July 1
July 11-15
July 18-22
July 25-29

Science, Technology, and Engineering Institute 

recommended for K-12 educators who teach science, technology, or engineering, or collaborate with those who do

June 20-24

Tuition and materials are provided at no cost. Participants will be responsible for transportation to and from Washington, D.C., and any required overnight accommodations.

Applications are due February 29 and require a letter of recommendation. Read more: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/teacherinstitute/?rssloc=eanft

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Summer School Tips from eNotes.com

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Here is a Web site — eNotes — for students and teachers: www.enotes.com.

eNotes offers study guides, discussion rooms and tutoring help.  If you sign up, they will send you useful emails. You can also follow eNotes on Facebook.

A recent email newsletter offers tips for surviving summer school.

  • Attend class — well, obviously.  But it’s especially important in the context of summer school, since classes progress much faster than during the regular school year.  Missing just one lesson can leave you substantially behind.
  • Read a little more each day — since these classes whiz by, the amount you have to learn is condensed into a shorter time frame.  So spend a little extra time studying every day.
  • Think positive — especially if you’re repeating a class, don’t be dejected.  You’re at an advantage, since you’ve got old class notes to review as well.  Info will sink in faster.  If you’re not repeating a class, remind yourself that you’ll be a step ahead when school begins in the fall.
  • Stay energized — summer can sap your energy, as will late nights.  Three hour classes are common.  So it’s very important to keep decent hours, eat right, get some exercise.
  • Don’t suffer in silence — voice your questions to the instructor, confirm information with your peers.  Go to eNotes as well for help.  If you’re writing an essay, eNotes offers an Essay Lab.

Check out eNotes.  Lots of material is freely available.  For a six month or a year’s subscription you will find  a depth of resource material at your fingertips.  Cool benefit —  every month in 2012 eNotes is giving away a Kindle Fire.

Find eNotes on Facebook to enter: http://www.facebook.com/enotes .  Just “like” them and then answer this question:  “In the spirit of July 4th, what book embodies the “great American novel” in your opinion, and why?

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com 

+ eNotes Quick Study Tip: Solving Chemistry Equations

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From eNotes, which provides study guides for students (and resources for teachers as well) here are some tips for solving chemistry equations.

Solving chemistry equations isn’t easy for most students.  But practice and determination will give you confidence.  eNotes asks you to keep these three tips in mind as you do your chemistry homework.

  1. Take a moment to organize the equation before you pull out your calculator to do the math.
  2. Pay close attention to the units to make sure they are canceling correctly.  If units aren’t canceling correctly, then your answer won’t be correct.
  3. If you do a question multiple times before getting it right, make sure you look at the incorrect attempts to see where you went wrong.  Did you invert a conversion factor?  Forget to convert from kJ to J?  Miscalculate a molar mass?  This will help you make a mental checklist of potential problems in other equations.

eNotes want you to know that if you get really stuck, Editors are standing by and ready to help.  You have options for access to this help, you can choose monthly or yearly subscriptions.

eNotes is giving away an Amazon Kindle Fire every month in 2012.

Like them on Facebook as well!

Visit eNotes at http://www.enotes.com/lit/study-guides?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=december

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Generating Ideas “Outside the Box”

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Great article in the Times this morning on creativity:  Suntae Kim, Evan Polman and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks wanted to know if there is any psychological truth to metaphors such as “think outside the box,” and “on the one hand; on the other hand…”

Researchers had already found that someone holding a warm cup of coffee tends to perceive a stranger as having a “warmer” personality.  Other studies have shown that if a person is holding something heavy, they tend to view things as more serious and important… more “weighty.”

But the authors asked 102 undergraduates at NYU to complete a task designed to measure innovative thinking.

The type of task was to (for example) generate a word (“tape”) that related to three clue words: “measure,” “worm,” and “video.”

Some students were randomly assigned to do this while sitting inside a 125-cubic-foot box that we made of plastic pipe and cardboard.  The rest got to sit and think outside (and next to) the box.

…We found that those thinking outside the box were significantly more creative: compared with those thinking inside the box, they came up with over  20 percent more creative solutions.

 In another study students were asked to think of original used for particular objects made of Lego blocks; but they had to do it while walking along a fixed rectangular path indicated by duct tape on the floor — marking out an area of about 48 square feet.  Other students were allowed to walk as freely as they wished.

They found striking differences.  Those who walked freely  were better at generating creative uses for the objects — coming up with over 25 percent more original ideas.

Such creativity was assessed in terms of fluency (the number of ideas generated) flexibility (the number of unique categories that described the generated ideas), and originality (as judged by independent raters).

On the one hand…

The researchers found that something similar happens when thinking about a problem “on one hand and then on the other.”

 Forty undergraduates from the University of Michigan were asked to lift and hold a hand outstretched (“as you might when addressing an audience from a stage”) while generating novel uses for a new university complex.

Some were asked to lift just one hand.  others were asked to switch between hands.

Among students who were allowed to switch hands (literally on the one hand, on the other hand) they found a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of uses generated.

The authors feel they are close to finding some sources of creativity.  

By showing that bodily experiences can help create new knowledge, our results further undermine the strict separation between mind and body — another box that has confined our thinking for a long time.

Additionally, the authors say, even though researchers are only starting to grasp how catch-phrases shape how people think, it may now be possible to prescribe some novel suggestions to enhance creativity.  For instance, perhaps if we’re performing a job that requires some “outside the box” thinking — it may be literally a good idea to avoid working in cubicles.

Suntae Kim is a doctoral candidate and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is an associate professor, both in management and organizations, at the University of Michigan.  Evan Polman is visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at NYU.

For the entire article, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/when-truisms-are-true.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Suntae%20Kim,%20Evan%20Polman&st=Search

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Council for Learning Disabilities Call For Proposals: Due March 30

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The 34th International Conference on Learning Disabilities, to be held in Texas in October, is calling for proposals. 

The theme of the CLD conference is “Learning Disabilities: Looking Back and Looking Forward — Using What We Know to Create a Blueprint for the Future.”

TYPES OF SESSIONS

  • Panel — Topics should be pertinent to LD and include three or more panelists; and be of use to researchers, policy makers, teacher educators, and educators.  Content should be readily applicable to their professional roles.
  • Cracker-barrel — Sessions leaders should introduce key issues, provide ample opportunities for group interaction, facilitating small-group discussion.  Controversy is okay.
  • Poster — Content should be evidence-based; might include (for example) a synopsis of an intervention study, progress monitoring tools, practices relating to pre-service training , meta-analysis/synthesis of the literature, examination of technical applications.

TOPICS

  • Intervention — Sessions should offer information that helps  implement practices and approaches directly, provide their  documentation as evidence-based, summarize the theory and underpinnings, include relevant data.  
  • Policy — These sessions address system-level issues, systems change, legislative/legal issues, or policy development.  Should delineate multiple perspectives, discuss how a policy impacts individuals, families and advocates.  Proposals should include an explanation of the policy, give a brief background, explain the how and why of its effects on LD people and the professionals who serve them.
  • Teacher Preparation — These sessions should describe evidence-based practices for preparing teachers, advocates and  families.  Proposals should include a description of the  practice and examples of its use in a university/clinic setting, as well as ways to measure effectiveness.
  • Research Methodology — Of particular interest: methodologies that advance the participants’ understanding of how to conduct evidence-providing research on interventions; also how to read research-based articles, follow analyses, design studies and write them up.  Proposals should describe the methodology strategies and how session participants can apply the content for themselves.

For more information and instructions for submitting a proposal, visit http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102084425506-10/2012CLDCallForProposals-final.pdf

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ How Much of Your Expenses Can Be Deducted?

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Thanks to Alyssa Roberts Boscarelli, who posted some links to this information on the Ohio Dyslexia Group Facebook page.

[I want to note that it’s always wise to double check any advice found here or on other sites.]

IRS Publication says

How much of the Expenses can you deduct?  You  can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your AGE (Form 1040, line 38.)

For example, if :  the AGI is $40,000, 7.5% of that amount is  $3,000.  Any expense less than that would be non-deductible.

  1. Dependent:” You can include medical expenses you paid for your dependent.  The person must have been your dependent either at the time the medical services were provided, or at the time you paid the expenses.  A person generally qualifies as your dependent for this purpose if  A)the person was a “qualifying child” or a “qualifying relative” [check for the exact meaning of these terms] and  B) the person was a US citizen or national or a resident of the US, Canada, or Mexico.  (Adopted child: you may need to do further checking to locate “Exception for adopted child.”)
  2. Special Education: You can include — in medical expenses – fees you pay on a doctor’s recommendation for a child’s tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to work with children who have learning disabilities caused by mental or physical impairments (including nervous system disorders).  You can also include the cost (tuition, meals and lodging) of attending a school that furnishes special education to help a child to overcome learning disabilities.  A doctor must recommend that the child attend the school.  Overcoming learning disabilities must be a principal reason for attending the school, and any ordinary education received must be incidental to the special education provided.   For a look at the link,  http://files.e2ma.net/14242/assets/docs/irs_publication_502.pdf

Information from the Journal of Accountancy

The Journal of Accountancy had headlines  that read “Dyslexia program tuition is a valid deduction;” and  “Special education is a medical expense.”

They give further details, saying that the IRS (in letter ruling 200521003) has held that tuition paid to a school program to help dyslexic children deal with their condition can be an IRC section 213(a) deductible medical expense.

The article notes that the  IRS first explained that “normal education” is not medical care.

For education to be considered medical care, a physician or other qualified professional must diagnose a medical condidtion that requires special education to correct it.  The school need not hire doctors, but it must have professional staff competent to design and supervise a curriculum providing such care.  Overcoming the disability must be the primary reason for the child attending the school.

Special Schools

From the Tax Research Consultant, we learn that a “special school” is distinguished by the substantive content of its curriculum.

Although ordinary education may be provided by the school, it must be incidental to enabling the student to compensate for or overcome a handicap so that the student will be prepared for future normal education or normal living.

The IRS privately ruled that the tuition, summer school, tutoring and transportation costs for a dyslexic child in a school that accepts only handicapped children with specific learning disabilities and has a curriculum tailored for learning disabled children are deductible.

Whether a school is a special school, however, is determined by the nature of the services received by the handicapped student — not with respect to the institution as a whole.

Examples of special schools:

  • Schools for training the mentally retarded.
  • Schools for average and above average students who have learning disabilities, with the purpose of providing an environment in which they can adjust to a normal competitive classroom situation.
  • A regular school’s curriculum that is specially designed to meet the needs of handicapped children whose IQ scores ranged between 50 and 75.  A class must be structured to educate students who were not able to profit from the education that was being offered through ordinary classroom instruction, but whose intellectual ability indicates the possibility of a degree of scholastic attainment with the help of specially trained teachers and special methods and materials.
  • A special school for a child with severe learning disabilities.

 

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com