Emerging & Promising Practices
Thurlow and Wiener (2000) clarify differences between approved and non-approved accommodations. They define approved accommodations as: "changes in the setting in which a test is administered, the timing of a test, the scheduling of a test, the ways in which the test is presented, and the ways in which the student responds to the test. Almost universally, the term is used to refer to changes that do not alter in any significant way what the test measures or the comparability of scores. Changes in setting, timing, scheduling, presentation, or response that are considered to alter what the test is supposed to measure often are called modifications, nonstandard administrations, or non-approved accommodations" (Thurlow & Wiener, 2000).
Scores using non-approved accommodations are considered separately from scores from standard (approved) accommodated examinations, and are not included in aggregate measures used for accountability or proficiency determination. State and national policy makers and educational administrators face dilemmas in defining whether an accommodation meets the criteria for a standard accommodation, and also in how to appropriately select and use nonstandard accommodations. According to Thurlow and Wiener (2000), "Most states, however, are still in a climate of confusing terminology, policy, and practice, while awaiting clarification of their legal obligation to provide non-approved accommodations
. At the same time, however, test developers have not figured out how to report the results when these special types of accommodations are used, and states must decide how these will count in meeting high-stakes requirements. Thus, states are left on their own for now to answer questions about these special situations."