Setting Assessment Accommodations
What are setting assessment accommodations?
Setting accommodations change the location in which an assessment is given or the conditions of the assessment setting. Students may be allowed to take a test in a different location than the majority of students in order to reduce distractions, receive distracting accommodations, or increase physical access. Every testing location should be as free as possible from noise, traffic, and other interruptions. These days, it is probably important to remind students and test administrators to turn off cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices. Even the most focused test takers are distracted by the sound of a cell phone ringing or road construction outside of a classroom window!
Some students may need changes in the conditions of an assessment setting. Every assessment setting should also include good lighting and ventilation, with a comfortable room temperature. Chairs should be comfortable and tables at an appropriate height with sufficient room for test booklets and answer sheets. Staff should check that all needed test materials and equipment are available and in good condition. Staff also need to ensure that visual displays in the testing room are removed or covered if they might be used by students to answer test questions.
Who can benefit from setting assessment accommodations?
Changes in assessment location can benefit students who are easily distracted in large group settings and who concentrate best in a small group or individual setting. Changes in location also benefit students who receive accommodations (e.g. reader, scribe, frequent breaks) that might distract other students. Students with physical disabilities might need a more accessible location or specific room conditions.
How are specific setting assessment accommodations administered?
Change location to reduce distractions. If a test is given to the majority of students in a large group setting (e.g., cafeteria, auditorium, media center, lecture hall, classroom), a setting accommodation to reduce distractions would allow an individual student to be tested in a different location, usually in a place with few or no other students. Changes may also be made to a student's testing location within a room. For example, a student who is easily distracted may not want to sit near windows, doors, or pencil sharpeners during a test. For students who are easily distracted, physically enclosed classrooms (classrooms with four walls) are more appropriate than open classrooms, and study carrels might also be helpful. Students with low vision may prefer to sit in the part of a testing room that has the best light.
Some students concentrate best while wearing noise buffers such as headphones, earphones, or earplugs. Only students who are very familiar with these devices and use them regularly during daily instruction should use them during testing.
It may be difficult to find testing locations that are private and free of distractions, especially when many students in a building are tested at the same time. Each student tested in a private location needs adult supervision, and each adult supervisor needs clear instructions about test administration procedures. For example, an adult supervisor needs to know what to say when a student says, "I don't understand what this problem is asking. Can you help me?"
Change location so student does not distract others. Some students use accommodations that may distract other students, such having a reader or scribe. Also, some students might perform better when they can read and think out loud or make noises that distract other test takers. A private testing location with an adult supervisor is needed for students in these situations.
Change location to increase physical access. Occasionally a setting might be changed because a large group setting is not adequately accessible for a student. For example, a student who uses a wheelchair with a specially designed tabletop and assistive technology may not be able to take a test in an auditorium with theater seating. A student who uses a large print test booklet may need to sit at a table rather than at a desk with a small surface area, or, considering the auditorium example, there may not be enough light available for a student with low vision, requiring an alternate testing setting.
Students who receive educational services in home or hospital settings may need to be tested in those settings.
Change location to access special equipment. Some students may need equipment that requires testing in specific locations. For example, a student who uses a computer for word processing might need to take a test in a computer lab. Students might use other adaptive equipment or furniture that requires them to take tests in specific locations.