Tuesday, April 04, 2006

SAT extra time on ABC News Nightline

The SAT extra time interview titled "Does Loophole Give Rich Kids More Time on SAT?" was a pretty good interview of me and I was able to establish that a learning disability diagnosis or Attention Deficit Disorder Diagnosis for extended time on the SAT could not be bought.

I think the misconception by the interviewer, Jake Tapper was that the extended time was based solely on an opinion by a Psychologist or Psychiatrist, rather than on actual test data.

The SAT extended time, or LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, GRE or Bar exam all require the same sets of rigorous testing to establish a person's potential from the tests of cognitive ability or intelligence tests, as well as a dozen subtests which show the impact of the disability on a variety of performance measures.

The Americans With Disabilities Act requirements is almost always where other professionals who do testing fail and cause their patients to have their requests denied, which is why it is very important to have someone who is a licensed Psychologist, with extensive experience testing for learning disabilities and ADHD, and most importantly writing the 20+ page report which accompanies the request for extended time.

The cost of not having an expert is both a loss to the patient in terms of the money they spent to be tested, as well as having to take the test with regular time when they may have been eligible for accommodations if they were tested by a special accommodation expert.

At the high school level, some students in school receive accommodation on in class tests without the high level of documentation required by the Boards, which is fine, until they need extended time in college or the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT or California Bar exam. The documentation and the expertise required to administer the tests, interpret the tests and obtain the appropriate background history for support of the Americans with Disabilities Act is what separates the "experts in testing accommodation" from the minimal requirements of a licensed professionals who will have high denial rates from the boards because of a lack of evidence or lack of appropriate testing.

This week, I heard back from a patient who received extended time on the MCAT (Medical School entrance exams), which is one of the hardest to receive accommodations and he received all of the accommodations I had recommended. Last week, I helped an individual with Attention Deficit Disorder petition their Law School so they could be readmitted into the Law School program with special accommodations.

Not everyone qualifies for extended time, even with a disability. The disability must impact the performance on specific tests and have impact across several areas of a person's life. I have several exclusive forms that I developed for my patients which help them to gather the necessary documents and screen out confounding variables that can be a red flag to a review committee. Usually I can estimate a person's chances of receiving accommodations after the testing is completed and analyzed.