Do you have a student who has an IEP* or 504 Plan* and will attend high school next year (regardless of whether s/he also has an ALP*)? Do you think you’ll pursue accommodations for college entrance* or AP* testing? If so, this process can start as early as the fall of 9th grade, if you are seeking accommodations for the PSAT 9* (typically administered in April). This can sometimes be a convoluted and lengthy process. Below are some key things to consider:
- An IEP or 504 does NOT guarantee college entrance or AP testing accommodations. You must separately apply for SAT and ACT testing accommodations, as well as any AP tests, and the existence of an IEP or 504 does not guarantee your student accommodations on these tests.
- Review the college entrance testing accommodations process and documentation requirements before you start. Understood.org a tremendous resource for parents and provides links to all the standardized testing requirements. Having a strong understanding of all the documentation required before you start the process or meet with your child(ren)’s school, will help ensure nothing is overlooked. Link: How to Apply for SAT/ACT Testing Accommodations
- Start the process early. As soon as your son or daughter enters 9th grade, meet with his/her guidance counselor to get the process started for applying for college testing accommodations and to understand the counselor’s role versus yours. Make sure you fully understand what documentation is required and what paperwork you will need to obtain versus what the school will gather. It typically takes eight weeks to hear a decision from College Board* or ACT and if they require additional justification, the process can take months.
- Update your child’s professional evaluation. The documentation developed by a medical or mental health professional identifying your child’s disability or learning challenge (most likely the documentation used to justify the need for an IEP or 504) needs to be current. For College Board, that means the evaluation needs to be no older than 2 years (24 months).
- Know your SPED (Special Education) professional for your school. This person may be able to help you navigate this potentially complicated process. Your school district’s website should list SPED professionals for your school and/or school district.
* Acronyms and Definitions:
- 504 Plan – Students with disabilities are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 Plan provides for specific accommodations to facilitate the learning and development of a child with an identified impairment. 1
- ACT – A college entrance exam (originally stood for American Collegiate Testing)
- ALP – Advanced Learning Plan. A document (mandated under Colorado Law) which is created for a student who qualifies. This document typically contains one or more goals in an identified strength area and is created each academic year in partnership with the teacher(s), parent(s), and student (as age-appropriate).
- AP – Advanced Placement test, typically taken at the end of the school year in association with an Advanced Placement (AP) High School class. Certain scores may result in credit for a related college course.
- College Entrance Exams – i.e., SAT and ACT tests
- College Board – The administering body of the SAT and AP tests
- IEP – Individualized Education Program. A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an IEP for every child receiving special education services…The IEP is meant to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. It is a legally binding document. The school must provide everything it promises in the IEP. 2
- PSAT 9 – Pre-SAT test for 9th graders. This is a practice SAT test.
- SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test is a college entrance exam
- SPED – Special Education department or professional
1 Stanberry, Kristin. “Understanding 504 Plans.” Understood.org, UNDERSTOOD.ORG USA LLC, 10 Oct. 2017, www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/504-plan/understanding-504-plans.
2 Stanberry, Kristin. “Understanding Individualized Education Programs.” Understood.org,UNDERSTOOD.ORG USA LLC., 10 Oct. 2017, www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/understanding-individualized-education-programs