Accommodations for College Admission Exams: A Guide for Homeschoolers

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This post was originally published at Simplify. To utilize Simplify‘s services please contact us here.

Homeschoolers are often judged more on their test scores than their public and private school peers because of the fact that their education is evaluated at home and often by parents. Having an outside test score or scores to back up the information on a homeschool transcript is essential. In addition, test scores are often used in awarding merit scholarships at many colleges and universities and AP scores can be used for awarding college credit. For many homeschoolers the SAT, ACT, and the APs are a very important part of the college application.

For homeschooled students with disabilities, whether they are physical disabilities or learning disabilities, this is also true. But the process to get accommodations approved can often seem overwhelming and confusing to a parent just starting out. This guide is to help you get through the process.

The first thing you need to decide which test you need accommodations on. If your student will be taking the ACT then you will be working with the ACT only. If your student will be taking the SAT, SAT Subject Test, the PSAT, or the APs you will need to go through The College Board for accommodations. Both of them do work with homeschoolers but the process is different for both. One thing to remember is to start early on accommodations as sometimes they are not approved in a timely manner.

ACT ACCOMMODATIONS

Step 1: Register for the ACT first – you have to actually register your student prior to requesting accommodations. When registering indicate that your student will need accommodations. Select the type of accommodation or accommodations that are needed and complete the registration. ACT will send you an email about working with your school. As an independent homeschooler you will not need to worry about this.

Step 2: You will need to complete the Request for ACT-Approved Accommodations Supports form. It is also recommended that you, as a homeschool teacher, fill out a Teacher Survey Form to provide more information on your student and the accommodations your student receives in your classroom.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation that you have in regards to your student’s disability, the teacher survey form, a copy of your student’s ACT admission ticket, and the support form you filled out and email it all to actaccom@act.org.

If you are unsure about what supporting documentation you need please see ACT Policy for Accommodations Documentation.

After ACT has received your request they should get back to you within a timely manner. Depending on what test date your student has signed up for the deadlines are as follows:

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COLLEGE BOARD ACCOMMODATIONS

For anyone wanting their student to have accommodations on the SAT, PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, or the APs you will have to work with the College Board. In previous years the College Board was very hard to work with and more times than not accommodations were not approved not only for homeschooled students but for public and private school students as well. With accommodations so hard to come by there was a great deal of backlash and in response the College Board has made some changes to the process and made it simpler for qualified students to get their much-needed accommodations. Remember to start the process early in the year especially if you are trying to get accommodations for the AP exams.

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Step 1: When you begin researching accommodations through the College Board you will see that they have moved to an online platform. Homeschool parents will not be using this platform to request accommodations. Instead you will need to email the College Board at ssd@info.collegeboard.org and request a paper Student Eligibility Form. Make sure to include your physical address in the email as the form will be sent to you through the mail.

Step 2: You and your student will need to fill out the Student Eligibility Form. Instructions will be included with the form The first half of the form is easy to fill out as it is just student identifying information. Sections 13 through 16 deal with the accommodations requested, the student’s disability, and documentation. Make sure you, as the parent, fill this section out and read the instructions for each step prior to filling in your student’s information. Section 17 is for schools only. As a homeschooling parent you do not need to worry about this section.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation you have to justify the accommodations. You can get more information on what documentation to send by visiting the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities here.

Step 4: This is not a required step but I do highly recommend it. Download the Teacher Survey form from the College Board and fill it out. This form gives you, as the homeschool teacher, a chance to explain accommodations that you use in your homeschool for your student. You also have an opportunity to discuss if you give your student extended time and what the impact of having accommodations has on your student. If you have another teacher that works with your student and has insight into their accommodations they may also fill out a form. Remember: when it comes to getting accommodations, the more documentation and information you have on your student the better.

 

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Step 5: Place all the forms and documents you have in the envelope that the College Board sent you and send it back in. You can send it via regular mail or if you are worried about the highly personal and sensitive information you may want to send it via trackable mail. After mailing the materials you can expect to hear back from the College Board within seven weeks. The decision will be mailed to your student and will be available online if a student has an account on My Organizer.

Step 6: If your accommodations have been denied, don’t give up yet. Usually, they are denied because more documentation is needed. Or, they may be partially approved. Either way your letter from the College Board will explain everything and give you your options to proceed. For more information on denied accommodations head over to the College Board.

Having a student who needs accommodations in order to perform at their optimal level can sometimes feel overwhelming. Hopefully, this guide helps you work through the steps needed in order to receive accommodations for whatever test or tests your homeschooled student needs to take. If you would like further help with this process or any other part of the college admission process please contact Simplify. We would love to work with you!

Twice Exceptional Students and Homeschooling

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Someone asked me the other day about home schooling a 2E kid. What does it look like, how do your days flow, what kind of work does your child do? I shared with them what homeschooling looks like at my house with my youngest, and I thought I would share here too for anyone wanting to learn more about homeschooling these very unique kids.

First off, let me say that this is only one view of homeschooling the twice exceptional. There are many other ways to do it, and what works for one family will not always work for another. Also children and teenagers who are identified as twice exceptional vary in so many ways and struggle with different disabilities that techniques and routines that I use may not work for other families. Having said that I will share what works for us. At our house the key to homeschooling a 2E kid is flexibility, compassion, following passions (whatever they may be), and having support.

Flexibility – Flexibility is key to a smooth homeschooling journey for a 2E student. You need to be flexible in your routine, flexible with your curriculum choices, and flexible with your approach. What works one year may not work the next. What is scheduled in a curriculum may not be the schedule you follow. What you have planned for the day may not be what you get done. If you start your journey with flexibility in mind then you are able to bend easier without getting frustrated and overwhelmed. Changing your expectations goes hand in hand with this. Don’t expect school to look like the perfect vision you have in your mind, don’t expect it to look like other homeschooler’s school, and don’t expect it to look like a sibling’s school. It will be different than others, different from day to day, different than what is planned. And that is ok, and it is normal when schooling a twice-exceptional student. In our homeschool we may go weeks with the same schedule, and then hit a brick wall and need to take a break and reassess. Flexibility is the key to getting through times like this.

Compassion – Being a twice exceptional student can be hard. Some subjects come so easy to them, while other subjects are a constant struggle in frustration. These students may be working on work that is many years ahead of them and then they may struggle with work that is many years below them. My student’s strengths lie in writing, art, animation, and game making. He struggles with math. It is painful for him (and me!) to work through a math lesson that we have covered many times before, but that he still struggles with.  Compassion is the key to dealing with this frustration, this struggle. And compassion should be shown not just to the student, but towards yourself.

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Italian Scooby Doo books – One of my son’s passions that have lead to many interesting educational activities.

Passions – Twice exceptional children are going to have passions, and most of these kids will feel very strongly about what it is they love. I have found that discovering your student’s interests and supporting these pursuits should be an important part of your homeschool. While you may feel drawn to the idea of your homeschool reflecting a traditional school in the subjects you need to teach and the skills your student needs to learn, it would probably be helpful if you leave that idea behind. Instead balance the skills and subjects that you believe are essential to your child’s education with the areas your child wants to study. For 2E kids passions often lead to work that is very meaningful and spending time on these pursuits will be rewarding to both of you. Our days consist of an hour or so of essential school work that I want to get done, and the rest of the time is his own in which he works on what he feels is important. In our house that means writing for hours a day, working on animation projects, reading books of his choice. For other kids it means working on math for hours a day or on a specific science project. Passions will vary from student to student but having time for them will benefit them all.

Support – Homeschool a 2E kid is very rewarding, but it is also frustrating and demanding at times. Give yourself a pat on the back, on hard days allow yourself to put the work away and call it a day, and if you are ever feeling overwhelmed talk to friends, call on a relative, lean on a support group (whether in person or online). There will be days, weeks, or months were you struggle and you need some help. If you are really struggling don’t be afraid to see a professional whether it be your pediatrician, your neuropsych, or another person that can give you advice and/or a fresh perspective. Also if you think your child may have a learning disability please have them professionally assessed. Many times people in the homeschooling community can be weary of getting a professional opinion, but it really is helpful to have. Ask around the homeschool community if you want someone who is familiar with homeschooling and supports that choice, as it can make a difference. Either way, arm yourself with a support group for yourself and for your child.

Where to find help/support online –

The Well Trained Mind forums has a Learning Challenges board that is a great community of parents that support one another in regards to many issues facing 2E kids. I highly recommend starting there if you need some advice.

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum has a Twice-Exceptional section that is very helpful.

SEA Homeschoolers has many parents with 2E kids if you are looking for a general homeschooling support group.

Also I found a wonderful gifted/2E support group in my area with meetups and park days through Meetup. It was really great to meet families in person that struggled with some of the same issues, and it was wonderful to meet friends that understood my kids. I highly suggest looking for a group in your area, and if there is not one, consider starting your own.