Text Size

Test Accommodations (sample case assessment)

Issue 1:Pursuant to the DOJ NBME settlement (J# 202-16-181, February 2011), the circumstances under which entities are entitled to seek additional documentation and/or conduct limited and focused inquiries are those in which there is insufficient information concerning “whether and how the impairment limits the ability to perform.” ______ has insufficient information to determine whether and how the applicant’s ability to take the GRE under standard conditions is impacted. It is important to note that there was insufficient information provided to permit ______ to verify what accommodations, auxiliary aids and services the applicant received in similar testing situations (e.g., SAT, ACT, etc…).

Issue 2:The issue here is not one of her establishing the existence of a disability. The documentation clearly establishes she has a psychiatric disability. This is a question of the “reasonableness” of the accommodation requested. “The definition of reasonable accommodation is not whatever modification the [applicant] believes is proper or necessary.” The obligation of _______ is to conduct “a diligent assessment of the [applicant’s] functional limitations and the available options for accommodation to determine what accommodations will ensure she will have an equal opportunity” in the test environment. (See Long v. Howard University, 439 F.Supp. 2d. 68 (D.D.C. 2006) and College of Marin, 35 NDLR 177 (OCR 2006)). _____ cannot conduct the necessary assessment with the information that has been provided. Double time is certainly an accommodation that is available but the appropriateness of the accommodation in a standardized testing environment for this applicant has not yet been established. Reported symptoms of “…inhibit her ability to concentrate, and perform under pressure…” suggest the need for some accommodation; however, the key question is what accommodation. There are accommodations other than double time that may also be appropriate based upon the described symptoms.

Issue 3:The documentation from the qualified expert is inconsistent and lacks currency. Specifically:

  • The June 2009 statement provided a diagnosis and a treatment history; but, the manifestations discussed primary concerned the applicant’s adjustment to medications.
  • The October 2009 statement included notation of general symptoms (i.e., limits regarding the ability to concentrate; performance under pressure; “educational performance may be impeded/impaired at times”) and recommended extended test taking time and a quiet test taking room. No specific amount of extended time was specified.
  • The November 2009 statement recounted the same general symptoms and the recommended accommodation was “additional time in test taking, specifically 2 times greater for examinations.” There was no mention of a quiet test taking room.

Thus, there is clearly a need for clarification of the documentation based upon the limited information provided concerning the applicant’s functional limitations; the failure to describe the circumstances under which her “educational performance may be impeded/impaired at times”; the inconsistency regarding the accommodation recommendations; and the currency of the documentation given the nature of her disability.

Clearly, the information submitted does not satisfy the applicant’s obligation to establish that double-time is a necessary accommodation. (See Jayatyilaka v. National Board of Medical Examiners, No. CV 09-2932 PA (Cwx) (C.D.Cal 2011)). Under the circumstances, the most responsible step for _____ to take is to seek input and clarification from the applicant’s treating physician. What _____ is attempting to do is engage the applicant and her physician, the most important medical expert, in a dialog which would permit a determination which would meet the obligation under the law to ensure that the accommodations offered will be both effective in meeting her specific needs and ensure that the integrity of the testing environment is also protected.