The New York State Education Department has published guidelines on testing accommodations for students with disabilities.
In order for students with disabilities to participate equitably in state and local assessments, changes in testing procedures are necessary. However, in September 2015, the Common Core Task Force formed by Gov. Cuomo received reports from special education teachers and parents stating that many special education students were not receiving the testing accommodations specified in their individualized education programs (IEPs). The Task Force therefore recommended that formal guidance be issued to districts to ensure that students get the testing modifications they need.
The Department of Education guidelines state that the Section 504 Multidisciplinary Team or the Committee on Special Education must identify and document the testing conditions needed by each student, in the student’s IEP or 504 plan. The guidelines provide that all students with disabilities, including students taking the New York State Alternate Assessment, should have testing modifications recommended as appropriate.
In order to recommend the appropriate changes to the testing procedures, the guidelines state that committee members, including students and parents, should be aware of the purpose of the test being administered, the rationale for the necessity of testing accommodations, and what kinds of modifications are available and how they are administered.
The Education Department guidelines make clear that each teacher and provider must be informed of the need for testing changes and their responsibilities in implementing the recommendations in the student’s 504 plan or IEP. They further state that if a school fails to provide needed modifications, a student’s test score may be invalidated.
Parents can learn more about testing accommodations at the Education Department’s Office of Special Education.