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What Are the New Changes in Testing Accommodations?

By Ann Narcisse & Laurie Levine, Regional Special Education Training Specialists

In a few months, many of our students with disabilities will be taking the Grades 3-8 New York State English Language Arts Assessments. As a result of a new State Education Department (SED) policy there have been changes in allowable testing accommodations, specifically with the accommodation “Tests-read.” Now students with disabilities can have the entire ELA test read aloud if it is documented on their IEPs or 504 Plans. In the past, only directions were to be read aloud on the Grades 3-8 ELA Assessment. This new New York State Education Department memo, (11/16/17) replaces all previous guidance from the department....

This Bright Spot comes from the teachers at Boyce Thompson elementary school in Yonkers who worked with SESIS Martha Trujillo-Torp last year.

What were students able to achieve?  From 1st to 6th grade, and from general education to self-contained, teachers reported these results from one simple strategy:

* “Students now accept constructive criticism when their answer is incorrect and feel comfortable enough to try again.” (4th grade ICT)

* “Students are eager to share their work and aren’t fearful of making any mistakes. They are eager to learn and collaborate.” (6th grade ICT)

* “Students have improved their handwriting and generally built up their confidence.  They work out their thoughts before responding to the group.” (12:1:1 self-contained)

* “A child who always handed in a blank page for writing assignments wrote a strand of letters and put a period at the end.  He ‘read’ it back to me.  Although the letters were random, he is understanding the concept of a sentence and using punctuation at the end.” (1st grade ICT)

What simple instructional practice had such a positive impact on students?  Individual student white boards, that allow all students to respond all the time, in a flexible easily corrected modality.  Teachers see multiple advantages; for example: “Students get extremely excited when I announce that we are using them and it provides me with a quick check formative assessment throughout the lesson”; “Students can simply erase their mistakes, with no trace whatsoever.  The boards are confidence builders, enabling my students to try no matter what”;  “It has been really helpful for my students who get OT”; and, “A white board is a great hands-on tool and keeps the students engaged!”


What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • The white boards are confidence builders.
  • White boards are great hands-on tools that help keep the students engaged.
  • The simplest strategies can sometimes be the most effective.


Important Links on Graduation Options - December 2016

Click here to see the proposed amendments to Section 100.5 and 200.4 of the Commissioner’s Regulations to Require Superintendents to Make a Local Determination. Do you have comments/thoughts about this? Share them by 12/2/16 through email at or regular mail to Angelica Infante, New York State Education Department, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234. The Superintendent Determination of Graduation Form for a local diploma can be found here.  This form is used to document the superintendent’s determination and, once complete, a copy is given to the parent, student, and NYSED.  A copy is also maintained in the student’s record. The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education: Part 200 has been updated to reflect the new transition services requirements.  The Transition Services section of this regulation begins on page 49.  Click here to view the latest version of the regulations.

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