Updated on August 13, 2018: If students receive extra time on the SAT or ACT because of a disability like ADHD, do the colleges to which these students apply know they received this accommodation? It’s a question a number of folks have asked us over the last couple of days after we posted about how some parents — and New York City parents in particular — often shop for a diagnosis from a psychologist so their child can receive extra time. The answer should be no. If a student receives extended time on the SAT or ACT, colleges should not be informed of this accommodation. But what should be the case and what is the case can be two different things entirely. About a year ago, ACT, Inc. started sending information on students’ disabilities to colleges and this has sparked a lawsuit against the company (hence our update to this post).
Disability Rights Grouped Championed the Unflagging of Extended Time
It wasn’t always the case that College Board and ACT, Inc. weren’t legally allowed to send information on students receiving extra time to colleges. It became the case as part of the settlement agreement of a 1999 lawsuit, which was championed by disability rights groups. After all, disclosing to colleges that a student has a learning disability and thus receives extended time on the SAT or ACT would seemingly violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. At least we’d think it would violate this act. And apparently we weren’t alone. But of course with the unflagging of extended time on the SAT and ACT that took effect in 2002 (and was made retroactive to 1999), a number of folks whose children did not in fact have disabilities requiring extended time tried to capitalize on the decision.
Unintended Consequences of the Unflagging of Extended Time
As Jane Grossept wrote in a 2002 piece for “The New York Times” entitled “Paying for a Disability Diagnosis To Gain Time on College Boards,” “Many educators, and the officials of the College Board, say that the small risk of abuse pales beside the unfairness of stigmatizing, or perhaps discriminating against, disabled test-takers. But to lessen that risk, the College Board, which owns the tests, recently beefed up its compliance department to audit and discipline high schools that seem to be granting an unreasonable number of accommodations. College Board officials do not dispute that there is an unintended class bias in the granting of accommodations, although they say it is no worse than other inequities in the education system, be it outdated textbooks or overburdened guidance counselors.”
Where do you stand on the unflagging of extended time? Do you believe College Board and ACT should do more to inhibit students who do not actually have disabilities from receiving extended time? Do you think ACT, Inc. will lose the class-action lawsuit the organization is currently facing for disclosing students’ disabilities to colleges over the past several months in apparent violation of the settlement agreement of a 1999 lawsuit? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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