Accommodations for state standardized tests

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

At a glance

  • Accommodations on tests can remove barriers for kids who learn and think differently.

  • Some state tests have “universal” tools and supports that all students can use.

  • Students with IEPs or 504 plans have more options for test accommodations.

Students in public schools often take state standardized tests toward the end of the school year. This can be a stressful time, especially for kids who learn and think differently. Test can help.  

Accommodations can be changes to how kids take tests, like extended time. Or they may be tools and supports, such as an extra notepad.

Many state tests have “universal” tools and supports that all kids can use. This is especially true of computer-based tests. It’s common for these tests to have built-in tools, like spellcheck, highlighting, and bookmarks. Some tests even let kids cross out answers digitally to avoid distraction.

Students with and have more options. They have the right to accommodations that remove barriers on tests caused by their . Schools must make sure IEPs and 504 plans contain a list of what accommodations students will use.

With computer-based tests, accommodations may be built in. For example, there may be a special tool that reads aloud text for a student with . Or there may be a calculator for a student with math struggles. Other accommodations, like a quiet room, extended time, or headphones, may need to be arranged.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Melody Musgrove, EdD served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education.