The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report Improved Federal Enforcement Needed to Better Protect Students' Rights to Testing Accommodations (GAO-12-40) about higher education and disability.
Standardized tests are often required to gain admission into postsecondary schools or to obtain professional certifications. Federal disability laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require entities that administer these tests to provide accommodations, such as extended time or changes in test format, to students with disabilities. GAO examined (1) the types of accommodations individuals apply for and receive and how schools assist them, (2) factors testing companies consider when making decisions about requests for accommodations, (3) challenges individuals and testing companies experience in receiving and granting accommodations, and (4) how federal agencies enforce compliance with relevant disability laws and regulations.
To conduct this work, GAO interviewed disability experts; individuals with disabilities; officials from high schools, postsecondary schools, testing companies; and officials from the Departments of Justice (Justice), Education, and Health and Human Services (HHS). GAO also reviewed testing company policies and data, federal complaint and case data for selected testing companies, and relevant laws and regulations.
GAO recommends that the Department of Justice take steps to develop a strategic approach to enforcement such as by analyzing its data and updating its technical assistance manual. Justice agreed with GAO’s recommendation.
Among accommodations requested and granted in the most recent testing year, approximately three-quarters were for extra time, and about half were for applicants with learning disabilities. High school and postsecondary school officials GAO interviewed reported advising students about which accommodations to request and providing documentation to testing companies, such as a student’s accommodations history.
For more information, visit http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-40.