Special Services Update

12/5/14

GUIDANCE ON PARCC ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES AND ACCOMMODATIONS

As many of you know, PARCC is very different from NECAP, and the accommodations that are available in each test are very different as well. PARCC is a universally designed assessment, with the goal of providing access to the greatest number of students and therefore minimizing the need for individualized accommodations. This is done through accessibility features: tools that are available to all students, as needed. Accessibility features include features that are commonly used with computers such as: audio amplification (volume control), headphones/noise buffers, and writing tools such as cut and paste. Additionally, commonly used test taking tools such as blank paper, test directions read aloud, repeated and/or clarified and teacher redirection to test are accessibility feature for PARCC.


Some accessibility features will be unfamiliar to students, and this is why it is important for teachers and students to access the practice tests and experiment with them well in advance of the test. These include: eliminate answer choices, flag items for review, highlight tool, line reader tool, magnification/enlargement device, embedded notepad, pop-up glossary, and external spell check device. Practice tests can be accessed at: http://parcconline.org/practice-tests.


Other accessibility features, again- available to all students- need to be identified in advance in the personal needs profile (PNP), which is completed at registration time, close to the date of the test. These include: answer masking, color contrast,and text to speech (by computer or person) for math.


Additionally, due to the nature of some of the accessibility features, the test coordinator has the discretion to change the timing, setting, or conditions of the testing.

Therefore, small group testing, frequent breaks, giving the test at a different time of day, or in an alternate location or specified area/seating, and using specialized equipment or furniture are available to all students and are not considered accommodations in PARCC.


Remember- because it is a universally designed test, the goal is to minimize the need for individualized accommodations, so most students will not need accommodations for PARCC. The majority of accommodations are intended for students with vision and hearing impairments, and will not be discussed here (I will be working with these teachers, as well as ELL teachers, separately). The general criteria for any accommodation is that it should be familiar to the student, it should be part of daily instructional practice, and it should be documented in an IEP or an evaluation.

The accommodations that students with IEPS and 504 plans may be using include:


Presentation accommodations (changes in the way the test is presented)

-assistive technology

-paper based test (instead of computer based test)

-student reads assessment aloud to him or herself

-test is read aloud to student- there are limits to this accommodation


Response accommodations (changes in how the student answers questions)

-assistive technology

-specialized calculator (on calculator portion)

-calculator or math tools (on noncalculator portion, and there are limits to this accommodation)

-student dictates responses (via assistive technology of human scribe, with limits)

-word prediction external device


Additionally, students are able to have extended time (up to the length of the school day) as an accommodation. If this is used, it is recommended that the student be tested in a separate setting to minimize distractions. There are also unique accommodations that may be available to students, with RIDE approval in advance, and emergency accommodations, which does not require RIDE approval but does require documentation and parent notification. If a student refuses as accommodation, it must be documented in student's file, and a copy must be sent home to parents the same day.


We will be working with each school team in January to help you make these changes to IEPS. Next week I will include information about how IEP teams should determine and document PARCC accommodations in IEPS. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. For those of you looking for something to do this weekend, you can find the accommodations manual at: http://www.parcconline.org/parcc-accessibility-features-and-accommodations-manual.


Have a great weekend!

Dr. Connolly