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By Ann Adkins, Education Specialist, TSBVI Visually Impaired Outreach
Abstract: This article describes the accommodations that visually impaired students are allowed to use on statewide assessments in Texas.
Keywords: programming, visual impairment, assessment, testing, TAKS, SDAA II, accommodations, modifications
Every year we receive many questions about the accommodations that visually impaired (VI) students are allowed to use on statewide assessments in Texas. Many of the questions seem to occur because of confusion over the use of the terms “accommodation” and “modification”. An accommodation is “a change to the environment to assist a student with instruction and/or assessment.” (2004-2005 ARD Committee Decision-Making Process for the Texas Assessment Program, page 114). A modification is “a change to the test itself.” (page 16). Accommodations are allowed for VI students if they meet the following criteria:
ARD committees must ensure that any accommodations are based on specific student needs that are identified and addressed in the student’s IEP. New or different accommodations cannot be introduced or allowed on the day of testing. Because district and campus test coordinators are often unfamiliar with the needs of VI students, it is important for the VI teacher (TVI) to work closely with them before the administration of statewide tests.
Parents, teachers and districts are often concerned about the size of print used on large print versions of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) or the State-Developed Alternative Assessment II (SDAA II). Other common questions involve the oral administration of tests or the use of extended time, manipulatives, or calculators. Answers to these questions are provided below, as well as information on how to find the answers to any other questions about testing accommodations for visually impaired students.
Answers to most questions about the assessment of VI students can be found on the website of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), <www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment>. Specific information about administering tests to students with visual impairments can also be found in Appendix D of the District and Coordinator Manual 2005, “General Instructions for Administering Tests to Students with Visual Impairments”, pages 297-299. This manual is also available on the TEA website. An “Accommodation Request Form” is available on the website, and a copy is also provided in Appendix B of the Coordinator’s Manual (page 261). It should be mailed or faxed to the Student Assessment Division of TEA in advance of the administration of the tests.
The Student Assessment Division of TEA is very willing to answer all of your questions about allowable accommodations for visually impaired students. Teachers, parents, or district administrators are encouraged to contact them by phone, fax, email, or in writing at:
Texas Education Agency
Student Assessment Division
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701-1494
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