College Board to Allow Assistive Technologies for SAT, AP and Other Tests

Beginning Jan. 1, most students who use testing accommodations at their schools through an individualized education program or a 504 plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved for taking the SAT, PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, Advanced Placement and other exams.

Most private school students with a current, formal school-based plan that meets College Board criteria will also have their current accommodations automatically approved for College Board exams.

The College Board announced these changes — and that it would begin providing additional testing supports to some English language learners who are taking the SAT — earlier this month, following criticism against its testing practices regarding students with disabilities, Education Week reported this week.

“Educators, students and families have asked us to simplify our process, and we’ve listened,” said David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board, in a statement. “The school staff knows their students best, and we want to cut down on the time and paperwork needed to submit a testing accommodations request.”

Under the new policy, school testing accommodation coordinators need to answer only two questions when submitting most requests for students:

Is the requested accommodation(s) in the student’s plan? and
Has the student used the accommodation(s) for school testing?

If the answer is yes to both questions, eligible students can be approved to receive most accommodations on College Board exams, the College Board said in a news release. This new process is expected to reduce the approval time for an overwhelming majority of accommodation requests.

The accommodations that will be automatically approved under the new policy include extended time, extra or extended breaks, the use of a computer to type essays or short-answer responses, the use of a four-function calculator and the use of a reader or a scribe, said Zachary Goldberg, a spokesman for the College Board, in an interview with Education Week.

If a student requests the use of assistive technology, such as a screen reader, the College Board “may follow up to determine what the technology is, that it functions appropriately with our assistive technology test form, and that it doesn’t violate test construct,” Goldberg said in an email exchange with Education Week.

More information about the College Board’s new policy can be found in this news release or on Education Week’s website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].