Accommodation Breakdown: Testing to Completion

Testing to completion.

Seems like a straightforward accommodation, right?

Student is given the test.

Student is given as much time as is needed to complete the test.

How could it possibly be interpreted any other way?

What could possibly go wrong?

What is Testing?

In your world, the word testing, might be defined as when your child is evaluated on any assessment, whether it is graded or not graded.

This would include end-of-chapter tests, quizzes, semester exams, end-of-year state evaluations, and so on.

After all, we don’t say a student is quizzing or examing or evaluating or assessmenting.

We say a student is testing.

Therefore, testing applies to whatever assessment is being provided.

Yet, two years in a row I ran into teachers who didn’t think quizzes or ungraded assessments were included in this accommodation. (Please read “The Language of IEPs & 504s: Just When You Thought You Knew the Definition of “Assessment”, Wrong Again” for more on this.)

The accommodation needs to precisely define the focus of extended time.

For example, rather than testing to completion, it might state:

Extended time to completion for all tests, evaluations, quizzes, assessments, and any other type of evaluation that has not yet been stated, whether it is ungraded or graded.

(Please read “The Language of IEPs and 504s: The Importance of “All” and “Before”.)

Where and When will Testing to Completion Take Place?

Will testing occur in the classroom or in a different room?

If in the classroom, will your son turn in his assessment when his peers do, so that he doesn’t miss any instruction that might follow the assessment (or be put in the position of having to test while the teacher and students might be talking, which then changes his testing experience from that of his peers)?

While some assessments take the entire class, some classes start with quizzes that are directly followed by instruction.

If each class starts with a quiz, will he continue taking the quiz or turn it in for completion later, so he doesn’t miss the instruction that always follows the quizzes?

If your son isn’t finished by the end of class, where will he finish the test?

Before or after school in the teacher’s classroom? If the teacher isn’t available, is another teacher available? Or is study hall an option?

In high school, where testing takes place more often and where tests are longer, you don’t want your child in the position of having five open tests at one time, with more tests piling up. The ones started need to be completed.

In this case, especially during high-volume testing periods (end of semester/end of year), this is a matter of proactive planning.

Work with your child’s IEP case manager in advance to find out what tests will be done on which days, and develop a schedule for taking them—and coordinate with all of your child’s teachers.

For example, if your son has an end-of-semester test in History and Chemistry on the same day, rather than him starting two tests, it would make more sense for him to go as far as possible with History. If he doesn’t finish during the class, his IEP case manager arranges for his History test to be given to his Chemistry teacher and then he finishes the History test during Chemistry. Ideally, he then starts the Chemistry test and finishes the next morning or the next afternoon, after school.

If your child is easily fatigued, and back-to-back testing is difficult for him, consider asking that he not have more than one test a day, or that the school work with you in advance to develop a schedule—and make sure this is in the IEP.

After School:

If your child is in band, theater, plays a sport, or is involved in any other extracurricular activities after school, work with the teachers to make sure these events aren’t missed.

Kids need happiness in their days and often, after a day of struggling during school, to miss activities that offer opportunities for them to shine is damaging to their psyche.

One teacher advised me that putting sports above academics is a slippery slope to travel. I advised him that, when I said no to the school trying to take away baseball practice for testing, I wasn’t putting one over the other. I was creating balance. A child can’t have an entire day of struggling. He needs time to shine.

Find a way to work with the school to complete the testing and make sure it doesn’t come at the cost of your child’s happiness and mental health.

How will the Testing Occur?

I’ve seen teachers give a student one half of a test to start and then another half. The issue with this, as we all know, is that sometimes the question for another test will trigger a memory of information to answer an earlier question. This, then, puts your student at a disadvantage if he doesn’t have the opportunity to have the full test at one time.

One teacher told a student that if he didn’t finish the questions given to him that day, he wouldn’t be able to go back to that portion of the test the next time he took it. She had trust issues. Kept all tests in a lock box. I believe someone stole a test years earlier.

Her argument was that the student had an unfair advantage because he could see questions and go back and finish them after going home and looking up the answers.

The only way around that is to limit the student’s testing, which puts him at a different disadvantage.

Ultimately, the students’ needs trump teacher’s trust issues.

Another teacher graded unfinished tests, which proved to be another problem. To see a bunch of X marks around questions you didn’t even do yet can be difficult to swallow. These kids know they need extra time. They don’t need a marked up paper noting every little unfinished piece.

Final Break Down:

This is one of the most-needed, but toughest accommodations to implement—in addition to be among the toughest to write.

It is doable, but only with a lot of communication and advance scheduling.

For this reason, it isn’t enough to have the accommodation “testing to completion”.

Depending on your child, it might need to be:

Extended time: Testing to completion for all tests, evaluations, quizzes, assessments, and any other type of evaluation that has not been stated here, whether it is ungraded or graded. Tests will be provided to student in full. Teacher will not grade assessment until entire assessment is completed. Case manager will obtain testing schedules two weeks in advance for each class. Case manager will develop a schedule with student for starting and completing tests. Case manager will share this schedule at least one week in advance with parent, because parent is student’s transportation to/from school. Case manager will coordinate with teachers to ensure they understand why student might need to work on another test instead of theirs.

You have to spell out each step. If you don’t, you’ll have a case manager and teachers who might say they didn’t know they were supposed to create a schedule or coordinate testing, and you’ll have a student with five open tests, at various stages of completion, with at least one of them with a start date of over a month ago.

“Testing to completion” = not as simple as it sounds.

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