Have you ever found yourself in the situation where a student with whom you are working has received a denial from the CollegeBoard regarding a request for accommodations on the SAT or from a child study team for in-school supports?
If so, you probably know that since the expansion of the SAT, more and more students have requested extended time accommodations and an increasing number have been denied. While some students have disabilities or deficits that should make them eligible, the reviewers are now enforcing a stricter interpretation of who needs extra time than they had previously. For example, having this accommodation in high school is not, by itself, a sufficient reason for granting it on the SAT. Even having a diagnosable condition is no longer a “free pass” to receiving extended time accommodations. Similarly, public schools have tightened their requirements regarding eligibility as their budgets have shrunken.
What do you do when you have a student who you feel really requires this support and has been turned down? The CollegeBoard has an appeal process as is true of the child study team. However, if you decide to go down this road, there are some things that are extremely important to consider. First, it is crucial to carefully read the denial letter to determine the reasons for the rejection. Second, if you disagree with these reasons, you need to revisit the documentation that was sent in support of the request. In this context, it is of utmost necessity that the evaluations upon which the request was made were comprehensive enough in scope. For example, when requesting extra time, you may find that the WISC-IV or WAIS-IV processing speed score is not sufficiently reflective of a student with slow processing speed. Since data regarding any deficit should be gathered from multiple sources of information, it is important that other instruments that have a timed component be administered to see if slow speed can be supported. For instance, if a student earns a high score on the WAIS-IV Arithmetic subtest, one of two processing speed tests, this, on the face of it, may invalidate your request. However, it is not unusual for students with slow speed but good math skills to earn high scores on this subtest, and still have slow processing speed in other areas. A good evaluator can uti
lize many different instruments to demonstrate the presence of a valid deficit. Next, the report that is written must be organized as a kind of legal brief. That is, the data must be discussed in connection with the reason for the evaluation, and concrete, specific, and measurable evidence of a deficit must be presented in clear fashion from multiple sourc
es. Simply reporting results with no connection to the request being made will not do the job. The reviewers will not connect the dots for you and the report must do this clearly and strongly. Of greatest importance is the need to demonstrate via the evaluation data and actual school and home-based functional data, the functional deficits that exist and interfere with students performing to their actual abilities. Ma
ny evaluations omit functional data from teachers specific to the deficits in question. This becomes even more important when the test data do not support the request and the functional data do. The same is true when dealing with the child study team.
An increasing rationale given for denying requests is that the student shows no significant discrepancy on the test data or has a high IQ or good grades on the report card. Under the law, none of these scenarios should automatically disqualify students from receiving accommodations. It is essential that the evaluator performing the
When a denial is received, additional testing may be required to demonstrate a valid deficit. A gentile, but clear reminder about the laws may also be necessary to support your student. Answering a rejection must also be done in a skillful manner resisting the urge to expres
s anger, and, instead, presenting a solid case to support your cause. When all else fails, the evaluator you choose should have experience in teaming with a special education attorney to make your case. However, the appeal process should go in a stepwise manner. Jumping to getting an attorney without first having solid data to support your request may backfire and generate bad feeling in those who are reviewing your appeal.