LD Accommodations at Independent Schools

Variety of accommodations available at Independent Schools
Extra Time on Tests
All schools surveyed offer "time and a half," but not unlimited time, on tests. Extra time on tests can be negotiated with individual schools in a variety of ways. The most common accommodation is to allow "time and a half." Some schools allow students to take tests in a specially designated room. Schools may require students requesting extra time on tests to come to school early, or give up free periods.
Extra Texts for Home Use
All schools surveyed allow this accommodation. Most schools require that extra texts be purchased. One school requires advance notification for ordering. However, if teachers annotate the texts in class, the duplicate set at home will be less helpful. This accommodation is most frequently made for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who have difficulty with organization and study skills. An extra set of texts at home is helpful to students who may chronically forget to bring the appropriate books home from school. A "study buddy" is helpful for providing information about homework assignments.
Use of Laptop Computer
Over one half of the schools in the survey permit the use of laptop computers for note taking and tests. Other schools will consider requests for use of laptop computers dependent on classroom teacher approval. Some schools do not permit the use of laptops for either note taking or tests. Laptop computers are helpful to students with learning disabilities because of programs like spell check. Using the keyboard is helpful to students with dysgraphia. Programs are also available that can help students organize their thoughts.
Alternatives for Scantron Tests
Less than half of the surveyed schools provide this accommodation. Some schools do not use Scantron tests. Scantron tests use answer sheets that are electronically scored. Learners with visual-perceptual problems may have difficulty filling in the bubbles on the score sheet correctly. The most commonly used accommodation for this problem is to circle the correct answer in the test booklet and score the test manually.
On Campus Tutorials
Fewer than one-third of the surveyed schools provide after-school tutorials on campus. Teachers at most schools have office hours after class, and many schools have student tutors. One school provides math and language labs staffed by teachers. Many LD students need academic coaching on certain subjects as a supplement to their classroom instruction. It is important for the parents to help assess the child's academic needs in order to determine whether the child needs coaching in a subject or more intensive intervention such as could be provided by an educational therapist. An educational therapist is a professional who combines educational and therapeutic approaches for evaluation, remediation, case management and communications/advocacy on behalf of children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities or learning problems. The Association of Educational Therapists' web site is www.aetonline.org.
Use of Calculator
Calculators are required of all students taking 10th grade or higher math. Some schools allow calculators in grades below 10, provisional on testing and recommendations. Several schools will consider this accommodation with teacher permission. A school might allow use of a table instead of a calculator for middle school math. Check with the individual school. Below the 10th grade, calculators are helpful for LD students who understand mathematical concepts but have difficulty remembering or retrieving basic math facts. This accommodation should not be used as a substitute for learning and understanding basic math principles.
Note Takers
Some schools provide this accommodation. Usually either the teacher provides notes or a designated student provides a copy. Some schools allow "note buddies" to share their notes as an accommodation. Some schools do not permit either note taking or note sharing. Taking accurate notes is a skill that can be challenging for learning disabled students. A note taker is a fellow student who is proficient at note taking and who shares copies of his or her notes with a learning disabled student. These notes are meant as a supplement to notes taken by the learning disabled student. Some note takers may use a carbon, others will photocopy their notes. The helpfulness of this accommodation depends on the skill of the note taker. A note sharer allows the LD student to review his or her notes and copy missing information.
Books on Tape
Very few schools have books-on-tape available in their libraries. Several schools permit their use but do not provide them. Other schools do not permit this accommodation. Books-on-Tape can be very helpful to students who have difficulty reading or comprehending printed material. An extensive library of Books-on-Tape, including textbooks, is available through Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. Visit their websitewww.rfbd.org for a list of titles and membership information.
Assistive Technology
Not available at any school in the survey. These are relatively new technologies and may be allowed if parents provide it. Check with the individual school. Assistive technology is most frequently used on computers in the home. Assistive technology refers to a broad range of devices or equipment that may be used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability. Following are some widely used aids: Co-Writer (word prediction), Dragon Naturally Speaking (writing through voice recognition), Draftbuilder (organizational tool), eClipse Reader (text to speech reading study tool). Inspiration (graphic organizational tool), Jaws (screenreader), Kurzweil 3000 (text to speech reading study tool), Lightwriter (communication aid), PICO (pocket video magnifier), Victor Reader (digital talking book player), Zoomtext (magnification/screenreader).