Education Letter to the Editor

Parent Advocate Responds to Testing Critique

September 12, 2017 1 min read

To the Editor:

As a parent and advocate, I want to get to the heart of Miriam Kurtzig Freedman’s recent Commentary (“Have SAT Accommodations Gone Too Far?,” Aug. 30, 2017): test validity. What are these tests intended to measure? Many dyslexic students, including my own son, lack the effective ability to decode words but not to comprehend when given effective access to the text. My son only received the necessary accommodation of having the test read aloud after a costly and lengthy battle with the College Board.

Sadly, what Freedman fails to acknowledge is that when a student with disabilities is given a test without accommodations, the test results are filtered through the effects of a disability, not a lazy choice. For many dyslexics, it would be like having to take the test in German while everyone else takes it in English; knowing the subject better is not enough!

Let me make this clear. When my son is tested on content knowledge without the accommodations to which he is legally entitled, he is effectively excluded from the same opportunity to display his capabilities. Why don’t you remove the wheelchair ramp and see how many capable students with physical disabilities make it into the building.

At Decoding Dyslexia, a grassroots parent-advocacy organization I am a part of, we have fought for fair testing of students with disabilities regardless of economic circumstances so that they can fairly show their knowledge and intellectual potential. The College Board’s new policy will help less well-off families and the schools that serve them obtain needed and justified accommodations for students with disabilities.

These tests were never normed or validated for students with disabilities; without hard-won accommodations, they do not allow students with disabilities the same chance to display their subject knowledge. This new policy will open up better career paths for these students—an outcome that should be welcome by all. We should be focusing our efforts on welcoming these students into the college ranks, where for too long they have been excluded.

Robbi Cooper

Texas Policy Parent Advocate

Decoding Dyslexia

Austin, Texas

A version of this article appeared in the September 13, 2017 edition of Education Week as Parent Advocate Responds to Testing Critique