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CAPD and Accommodations for Standardized Tests
Q: My third-grader has central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). This will be his first year taking the New York City and state standardized tests. His IEP says he's to receive 50 percent more testing time and is to have the test questions and directions read and re-read to him. The school wants to take away the reading and re-reading of the test, yet they admit that he's struggling with reading comprehension and following directions. Can a child with CAPD ever be expected to pass a 45-minute reading test without any assistance? The focus and attention just aren't there!
A: In general, any accommodations on an IEP should be extended on "high stakes" testing. However, certain states place restrictions on the types of modifications that are provided. So find out if the state allows reading and re-reading. If not, then you may want to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, saying that the test is unfairly discriminating against your son, who has an identified disability.
The fact that your son has CAPD shouldn't make taking a 45-minute test hard for him. However, the CAPD may have affected his ability to process language so that he hasn't learned how to read well enough to do well on the test. You said, "the focus and attention just isn't there." This is another matter. He may have difficulty with auditory attention in class (clearly related to the CAPD), and his ability to sustain his focus on a task may have to do with how difficult the test is.
An important issue is whether your son still requires the modifications that the school wants to take away in order to be successful on such a test. The teachers say that he is struggling with directions and comprehension, but are these problems so severe that he can't handle the demands of this test? If you and teachers aren't sure, then I would suggest having him take a trial test to see how he might fare in the actual test situation. If he does ok, count your blessings and be optimistic that he'll also do well on the "real" test.
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.