ACT Aspire Accessibility System Overview

South Carolina ACT Aspire Presentation
Spring 2015
Accessibility System Overview
Summative Test: 2015
Levels of Accessibility Support
Why are we using the term “accessibility” instead
of the word, “accommodations”?
All students have tools they need and use every day to
engage in the classroom and to communicate effectively
what they have learned and what they can do.
In fact, so do you and I.
ACT Aspire subject tests are designed
to level the playing field universally for all students
by acknowledging that there are different levels
of support (not just ‘accommodations’) that students need
to show us what they really do know and CAN DO on state
In ACT Aspire, “accommodation-level supports’
are just one of several possible levels of support available.
All these levels of support, taken together, are called:
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Before reviewing the levels of support,
you must know and understand the following:
1. All accessibility supports that are permitted,
fully honor and measure exactly the academic content
that was originally intended by the test developers.
2. Accessibility supports that are permitted
during ACT Aspire testing simply level the playing field
by removing unnecessary barriers that have nothing to
do with demonstrating the content, knowledge and skills
that are being measured on ACT Aspire assessments.
The academic content that is measured by
ACT Aspire assessments is the information that
each and every student must bring to the test
and be prepared to communicate.
This is not negotiable.
Accessibility supports do not do anything academically
for the student that he or she should be doing independently,
they just make communication possible and fair for each
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 1: Default Embedded System Tools (in brief):
Embedded System Tools are those
common supports that are made
available to ALL users upon launch/start
of test by default. No advance request
is needed. These tools are either
embedded in the basic computer test
delivery platform, or may be
automatically provided as needed at the
local level.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 2: Open Access Tools (in brief):
Open Access Tools may be used by anyone, but
they must be identified in advance, recorded in the online PNP, and
selected from the pull down menu inside the test to activate them
(CBT version), or must be planned in advance and provided locally.
Thoughtful decision-making informed by multiple observations and
prior successful user experience is strongly recommended.
Best Practice: Users should be practiced, familiar and comfortable
with using these types of tools – and comfortable using them in
combination with any other tools they will also be using. Decisions
to use these tools must be made well prior to the test itself.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Assigning too many tools
can harm student performance!
Choose carefully and individually for each student to prevent
overwhelming or distracting the student during testing.
Remember that routine annual local documentation of
successful (and unsuccessful) use of accessibility tools
through the student’s educational experience
helps to inform and improve future choices.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 3: Accommodations
(in brief):
Accommodation-level supports listed in the Accessibility
Features List are available to “qualified users”- as determined by the
responsible educational authority. These supports (used in content areas
where permitted) allow the user to independently demonstrate the measured
ACT Aspire recommends that students who use accommodation-level
supports have a formally documented need as well as relevant knowledge and
familiarity with these tools to qualify. Accommodations must be recorded
through the online ACT Aspire Personal Needs Profile (PNP) process to be
activated. Any other formal qualifying procedure that is required by the
responsible educational authority must be completed prior to completing the
ACT PNP request process.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 3: Accommodations, continued…
Accommodations are high-level intensive accessibility tools that are needed by
relatively few students. The ACT Aspire system requires accommodation-level supports
to be documented by educational personnel on behalf of the student through the
online ACT Aspire Personal Needs Profile (PNP). This will allow any needed online
resources to be assigned and documented for the student, whether using an online or
paper form.
It is expected that the responsible educational authority will determine for itself any
qualifying procedures or formal documentation to be required within that agency to
request and receive accommodation-level support during ACT Aspire testing.
The only requirement ACT makes is that the documentation of the use of
accommodation-level supports be made through the online PNP portal before testing.
This applies to both CBT and Paper form test takers.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 3- Accommodations, Continued…
Typically, students who receive this, intensive level of support have a formally
documented need for specialized resources or equipment that requires professional
expertise, special training, and/or extensive monitoring to select and administer the
support effectively and securely. Examples include needs for braille or tactile graphics,
audio support, sign language interpretation, or other language translation where
Decisions about accommodation-level supports are typically made by an educational
team including and on behalf of the student and are normally based on a formal,
documented evaluation of specialized need. These supports require substantial
additional local resources or highly specialized, expert knowledge to deliver
successfully and securely.
 Like all other allowed levels of support, accommodation supports always fully
preserve and honor the construct being tested.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 4: Modifications
Modifications are supports that are sometimes used during
the earliest phase of instruction, but modifications have
negative consequences when used for assessment purposes,
and are not permitted during ACT Aspire testing for any user.
Modifications are provided in the rare circumstances in school testing situations only
to support a student to nominally engage with the test, thus providing student access
to the “test experience.”
However, modifications alter what the test is attempting to measure and therefore
do NOT provide access to the construct being tested or claimed by the test.
Modifications create invalid test results.
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Support Level 4: Modifications, continued…
This level of support during testing violates the construct being tested, thereby
invalidating performance results, and communicates low expectations of student
achievement. Supports that provide this much assistance should be used with
extreme caution and decisions to use must be made with very careful and
documented team deliberation considering the potential consequences for this
student and subsequent learning outcomes.
Modification-level supports actually prevent meaningful access to performance of the
construct being tested, thus removing any ability for the user to demonstrate actual
skill levels that might be present. Modifications, therefore, represent a barrier to
independent performance of competence.
(More discussion of modifications is provided on in the ACT Aspire Accessibility User’s
Guide, under: Instruction vs. Assessment Supports).
The ACT Aspire Levels of Accessibility Support
Modifications in brief:
Modifications, if used during the early instructional period
may help some students to successively approximate and
to eventually learn a new and difficult skill.
However, even then, the intent is always to fade this extreme level of support
away so that the student can increasingly demonstrate independent
competence. In summative assessment, we are trying to observe what the
student independently knows and can do. Therefore, if used during the
assessment process, Modifications create a barrier to independent
performance of competence.
An Overview of the
Accessibility Features List, 2015
 See The ACT Aspire Accessibility User Guide online at: for the full list of Features Available:
• For Summative Paper Format Test: pp. 9-12
• For Summative Online (CBT) Format Test: pp. 13-15
• For Periodic Test (CBT only): pp. 16-19
Accessibility Features List Overview
Choosing Appropriate Supports for Testing
By understanding “Access Points”
Building an effective Personal Needs Profile
requires two things:
the right multidisciplinary team
- and the right information gathering method
Choosing effective supports requires teamwork!
The best-practice team includes:
Content staff with expertise in each content area of concern
Accessibility specialists with expertise in each area of need
The parent or guardian
The student whenever possible
PNP Information Gathering Method:
See The Accessibility User Guide, pp. 23-25 and pp. 40-42
1. Describe the student’s communication strengths by area of
communication skill.
2. Identify the student’s communication challenges by subject area.
3. Where a challenge is indicated, chart the communication strengths by
access point for that subject area: (Presentation, Interaction/Navigation,
Response - strengths)
4. Use the Accessibility Features List to identify supports that match the
communication strengths this student can use to overcome identified
Refer to the ACT Aspire 2015 Accessibility User’s Guide at
for test administration procedures specific to accessibility supports.
Examples of TestNav tools are available online, (updated periodically), at
ACT Aspire Accessibility User Guide 2015
Test coordinator Manual
Room supervisor Manuals
Braille Notes
Spanish Language Audio Directions
ACT Aspire Calculator Policy
ACT Aspire Portal User Guide
Test Administrator Training Videos
For other test administration or materials questions,
Call the ACT Aspire helpdesk at: 1-888-802-7502 6:00 am - 7:30 pm CT
The following slides provide ACT Aspire responses to
questions sent by South Carolina staff in February 2015.
For additional accessibility guidance, see:
• The ACT Aspire Accessibility User Guide, Spring 2015-3
posted at:
• The SCDE ACT Aspire FAQ Document
For other test procedure questions please call or please email
ACT Aspire customer service at: 1-888-802-7502 /
[email protected]
14 Questions & Answers about ACT Aspire Accessibility
1. Do all PNPs need to be completed before any test sessions can be created?
A: No, the entry of PNP data is student specific, that is, a given student can’t be added to a test session until his/her
individual PNP is complete. However, many people will want to have the PNP information for all students, if possible,
before they set up test sessions to save time. This is just for efficiency, however. You can do this for a single student.
2. During the PNP process, are accommodations selected subject specific? For example, if a student needs extra time
for math but not for reading, is that selection only made for the math test?
A: The PNP developed by the school team should be subject specific. Decisions about a student’s accessibility support
needs should be based on the student’s needs and the requirements of the specific content area test. However, the
Personal Needs Profile (PNP) does not specify supports by content at this time, and school level personnel must refer to
the IEP, 504 Plan, or ELL Accommodation Plan to ensure that accessibility supports are delivered for the appropriate
3. For students who have an oral administration (human reader) as an accommodation, are their test forms the
same? It is not feasible to administer the test using a human reader in a one-on-one situation in most, if not all, of
our schools. We must do small groups. Will all students in a small group have the same form?
A: ACT very strongly advises that students receive the (paper form) human reader support in a 1:1 test administration.
If a group administration is required, we strongly recommend use of the online Text to Speech Audio support used with
headphones. This form of online group administration reduces the local staffing need and simulates a 1:1 testing
experience by providing the learner with control of text selection, repetition and speed, in addition to response privacy.
All students with a (paper form) human reader accommodation in Writing, Math, or optional Science will be randomly
assigned a test form. All students using the human reader accommodation must test using the specified form. To
provide the oral administration, the same form test booklet must be used from a school’s overage supply by the human
reader to deliver the oral administration accommodation.
4. If a student must have snacks due to a medical condition, may those be provided during breaks? Does the
student need to leave the testing room? How is this documented on the student’s PNP?
A: This is allowable after you select in the PNP one of the General Test Conditions Supports, called: “BreaksSupervised within Each Day”. Where the snack occurs is governed by the local policy.
5. If a student uses a keyboard as a response support, can the student answer multiple-choice items directly in
answer document and only type and print responses to open-response or essay questions? (Handwriting
cannot be deciphered, but student can bubble.)
A: Yes. This is perfectly allowable and the “Keyboard or AAC Response + Print” support is intended to cover this
situation. The Room Supervisor will still be required to transcribe the student response exactly as provided by the
student onto a scorable answer document. Each original student answer must be labeled with its respective test
item number. Original student responses are also returned with the non-scored materials for security purposes.
6. If dictation and scribing is used as a support, does ACT Aspire require that a witness be present?
A: This security protocol is governed and directed by your state agency.
7. Are verbal or nonverbal cues to help a student refocus permitted as an accommodation or a support? Does
this need to be documented in the PNP?
A: Refocusing cues are not an accessibility feature within ACT Aspire. The role of a room supervisor is, in part, to
ensure that students are participating in the assessment. As such, if a student does not appear to be on task, a
room supervisor could redirect the student with a statement such as “Please be sure you are working on your
test,” “Keep working,” or “Be sure to mark your answers on your answer document.” Room supervisors, however,
should not answer any questions about specific test items or use language which would give any sort of hint to a
student about his or her work on the assessment. This is documented in the Room Supervisor Manual.
8. For hearing impaired students, are the translators allowed to write cues or use cue symbols about the
directions of the test booklet?
A: Directions cue symbols may not be written but test directions themselves may be manually signed.
9. Do ASL or SEE translators who will be in the classroom with a regular room supervisor need to be added to
the ACT Aspire Portal?
A: This is not expected unless there is a school or district or state purpose for it.
10. Do students testing at off-site programs (e.g., alternative schools) need to have “Other Setting” selected on
their PNP?
A: Yes.
Q: How will this affect the packaging of their materials?
A: Please contact ACT Aspire Customer Service (1-888-802-7502) about the packaging in this circumstance.
11. Do homebound students need to have “Home Administration” selected on their PNP? Can these students
receive extra time, even if they do not have an IEP?
A: Yes, “Home Administration” is the appropriate feature. ACT Aspire allows any student to use an accessibility
support at any level so long as there is a defined need for this and best practices were followed in making the
decision. Your State Department of Education, however, has the governing authority to determine which
students are “qualified” (and therefore allowed) to use accommodations. Extra time is considered to be an
accommodation level support. Please see your state FAQ for this information.
12. How do we administer the English and Reading assessments for student who has recently become blind and
who cannot read Braille; the student’s IEP indicates oral administration for all tests, but oral administration is
not allowed for English and reading?
A: This is a very important and also a difficult question. The student was most likely a fluent visual print reader until
recently, but now his new literacy is non-visual and he must now learn to read Braille to become non-visually
literate. The ACT Aspire accessibility supports that are permitted are allowed expressly because they honor the
constructs being measured by the tests. In the case of the Aspire Reading and English tests, our content
development teams are clear and strong in their indication that decoding text symbols (printed text for sighted,
Braille for non-sighted) is an essential element of what is being measured in these 2 tests during this academic
developmental period. For that reason, no examinee, regardless of disability status may take the Reading or the
English tests and earn a valid score without also showing their symbolic text decoding skills. We support the right of
the IEP team to have this student have access to the test experience through a modification such as reading aloud
the Reading and English tests, but this modification of the test administration does not allow the student to have
access to the construct being measured and must therefore be reported as an invalid administration, and the score
result must be invalidated for reporting purposes. I know this is a difficult situation, but this is the honest answer.
13. Regarding oral accommodations, some folks are concerned specifically about oral administration of the ACT
Aspire English and Reading tests not being allowed as a standard accommodation at any grade level. Can the
use of "modifications" (or non-standard accommodations) be permitted for ACT Aspire tests administered in
South Carolina?
A: Students may only use accessibility supports that do not invalidate the results of the assessment. IEP, 504 Plan,
and ELL Accommodation Plan teams should refer to Tables 1-4 on pages 9-12 of the 2015 Accessibility User’s Guide
for information on allowable supports. The supports listed in these tables have been determined by ACT to yield
valid results. Any test that is administered with “modifications” must be marked as INVALID prior to return. As
noted in your state FAQ: “2007 Federal Regulations on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act §300.160 (b)
(2) (ii) require[s] that State and LEA guidelines instruct IEP Teams to select, for each assessment, only those
accommodations that do not invalidate a score.”
14. There is an inconsistency between the Table 2 on page 10 and the information for Answer Masking and Answer
Eliminator on page 34.
A: Table 2 is correct and indicates that Answer Masking is an Open Access Tool and that Answer Eliminator is an
available Embedded support for paper-based testing.
On page 34, under the Answer Masking entry, the “Paper testing” bullet should read as follows: “Answer Masking:
Paper testing: Student may use an index card or similar object/device to cover up or 'mask' certain selectedresponse answer options (while revealing others).” This wording will be corrected in future editions of the
Accessibility User Guide.
Thank you for your time today.

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