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PARCC To Make Spring Common Core Tests Accessible for the Blind

Following a legal settlement with the National Federation of the Blind and other groups, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers will make its Common Core tests accessible for blind students by this spring, when the assessments will be field tested by 1.2 million students in PARCC states.

The settlement was reached between PARCC and the NFB, the NFB of New Jersey, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and parents of a blind student.

According to the NFB, "The settlement resolves a suit filed in late January by the NFB, its affiliates, and the parents of the student because assessment tests created by PARCC Inc. that will be field tested at [the student's] high school and other locations this spring were not accessible to students who are blind. Under the terms of the settlement, PARCC will make its practice tests accessible to blind students by the time the tests are deployed in spring 2014 and will consult with the NFB to ensure that all subsequent practice tests and assessments will be available at the time of deployment in accessible formats used by blind test takers, including Braille files for embossing in hard-copy Braille or via electronic access methods such as refreshable Braille displays and text-to-speech screen reader software."

The NFB contended that PARCC's failure to make the practice tests available to blind students would have been a violation of federal law and that it would further put blind students at a "significant disadvantage."

"Blind students are far too often forced to wait for equal access to educational materials, and as a result end up lagging far behind their sighted peers in academics," said Marc Maurer, NFB president, in a prepared statement. "This important settlement will address that problem by ensuring that PARCC's assessments and practice tests are accessible to blind students at the same time that they are deployed to all students.  We applaud PARCC's commitment to working with us to ensure that blind students are not left behind in the academic assessment process and will be able to receive timely and accurate measurement of their academic performance."

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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