Taking the GED Tests: Requesting Accommodations
By: Neil Sturomski (2007)
The General Educational Development Testing Service (GEDTS) has continually worked to develop better ways to provide support for individuals with disabilities – including those with learning disabilities (LD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Under the law, individuals with documented disabilities are entitled to reasonable and appropriate accommodations on standardized tests such as the tests of General Educational Development (GED).
Four forms for requesting testing accommodations have been designed to support those requests: Learning and Other Cognitive Disabilities, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity, Emotional/Mental Health, and Physical/Chronic Health Disability. These forms were designed to simplify the application process for requesting accommodations on the GED Tests in specific disability areas. The forms are user friendly and designed to collect all of the necessary information so that the requests may be processed as quickly as possible.
Learning and Other Cognitive Disabilities
Section 1 on all the forms requests information about the candidate including name, social security or social insurance number, date of birth, address, and telephone number. This section may require the candidate and/or the candidate's parent or guardian, (if the candidate is less than 18 years of age) to sign a statement authorizing release of information. This signature provides permission for GEDTS to review the request, and if needed, obtain additional psychological or medical information on the candidate if additional information is being requested to support the accommodation request.
Section 2 is completed by the GED Chief Examiner and requests information about the testing center. The Chief Examiner will sign this section after reviewing the application and determining that it is complete. If additional information is needed, the examiner should notify the candidate of the additional time which is needed to do the initial review
Section 3 is completed by the professional diagnostician or advocate. Documenting professionals are expected to be licensed by the state or be certified school psychologists within a public school or correctional system in order to administer tests that diagnose LD. This section requests the name of the professional making the diagnosis, phone number and the date of the assessment. It also asks for the diagnostician's licensure or certification number, the state, province, or territory in which it's held; the expiration date, and the diagnostician's specialty.
An advocate for the candidate may assist with completing the request for testing accommodations form. An advocate is someone who can help if the GED candidate has difficulty completing the Request for Accommodations form independently. They may only transfer data from the documentation (psychological reports and educational assessments) to the request for testing accommodation form.
If an advocate is attesting to the information on the accommodations' form, the advocate must include his or her name, relationship to the candidate, and a phone number. They should also include as much of the information as possible about the diagnosing professional that has been provided within the documentation.
Finally, the professional making the diagnosis or the advocate must provide a signature and date in this section.
Section 3A requests information on academic or achievement testing. The date(s) of the assessment and the test(s) used must be indicated. The information regarding the professional diagnostician or advocate must be completed.
Section 3B requests measurement of potential or intelligence. Again the date(s) of assessment is requested. Psychological and educational test scores should be presented as standard scores for easy comparison and rapid processing of the accommodation requests. Clearly, as indicated, assessment documentation must include an individually administered comprehensive measurement of potential or intelligence; individually administered achievement tests in areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension); written language (spelling, grammar, and written expression), and mathematics (applied math and calculations); and appropriate cognitive processing evaluations in areas such as language, memory, executive functioning, visual-spatial areas, and auditory processing. The information regarding the professional diagnostician, advocate must be completed if the documenting professional is different then the professional listed in Sections 3.
Section 3C on the Learning and Other Cognitive Disabilities form requests the specific diagnosed disabilities be indicated and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition-Text Revision (DSM IV-TR) codes be listed, if available. In Section 3D the requested accommodations that support the diagnosed disabilities should be indicated. Finally, Section 3E asks for any additional information or supporting documentation that would support the accommodations' request.
On the Request for Testing Accommodations Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity form, Sections 1, 2, and 4 are the same as on all the other forms.
Section 3A information requested is specific to ADHD. Documentation for a candidate diagnosed with ADHD must be provided by a professional licensed to make that diagnosis. AD/HD requests, should be completed by a medical doctor or a psychologist who has had extended training. The professional making the ADHD diagnosis must provide a letter clearly stating that the candidate meets the DSM IV-TR criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD. The letter should also define how the requested accommodations meet the needs of the candidate, how the candidate is functionally and substantially limited and needs the accommodations to be on an equal playing field when taking standardized tests. Measures used to diagnose ADHD should also be identified and the results should be provided.
The information provided on the form in this section should identify the individual with ADHD and should lead directly to requesting the appropriate, specific accommodations needed by a candidate. In addition, the functional limitations, recommended accommodations, and the rationale for accommodations must be indicated.
In Section 3B, the specific accommodations requested must be checked.
Section 3C asks for any additional information or supporting documentation that would support the use of the accommodations requested.
The final section, Section 4 is the same on all forms and is completed by the GED Administrator. The GEDTS accommodations approval process involves the review of completed forms by GED State Administrators. In most cases, the State Administrator - who has been trained by GEDTS to screen forms for all necessary information - will be able to approve the request quickly allowing the candidate to take the tests with the approved accommodations. If the State Administrator is unable to approve an accommodation request, the form may either be returned to the candidate to obtain further information or sent to GEDTS in Washington D.C. for a Level Two expert review. The level-two expert review may approve the accommodations, request additional information, or may not approve the request. If a requested accommodation is not approved, the candidate may appeal the decision. After which, a panel of GEDTS experts will review the request and provide a final decision.
GEDTS clearly wants to help support the candidate's disabilities in using the appropriate accommodations specific to his or her unique needs. Unnecessary accommodations could in fact hinder a candidate's ability to perform on the GED Tests. It is, therefore, imperative to make sure that a candidate is familiar with the requested accommodations, that he or she has learned how to use them, and that he or she has practiced in similar types of situations, such as on the GED Practice Tests. This helps to ensure an individual's ability to use the accommodations on the GED Tests and also in future situations of employment and daily life.
Accommodations are designed to put an individual on an equal playing field with those who do not need accommodations, not to perform the task for the individual with a documented disability. Therefore, accommodations provide an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate his/her knowledge, skills and ability on an equal basis to other test-takers. Accommodations that can be requested include but are not limited to: Extended Time, the use of an Audiocassette, Braille, a Scribe, a Calculator on Part II, a Talking Calculator, a Private Room, and Supervised Breaks. Other reasonable accommodations may be requested and approved on an individual basis, if the documentation provided supports the request.
Many accommodations can be requested by a candidate without documentation or approval from GED. Any candidate may request a large-print version of the test. Candidates may also use strategies or techniques learned in GED or adult education classes, such as color overlays , a non-ruled straight edge, magnifying aids, graph paper, and other types of techniques and strategies that do not compromise the test administration environment.
The GEDTS goal is to support individuals with disabilities and provide them with reasonable and appropriate accommodations necessary to ensure access. For additional information, please call GEDTS at (202) 939-9490 or check the GED website.
Sturomski, N. (2007). Taking the GED Tests: Requesting Accommodations, General Educational Development Testing Services. LD Online.