Dear Extra Credit:

Have the Montgomery County Public Schools system and the College Board/Educational Testing Service not yet worked out how to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act regarding a surcharge for accommodations on College Board tests?

Here is an excerpt from a message posted on the Walter Johnson High School PTSA listserv:

"School testing is appropriate for students who typically need special assistance, such as students who have documented hearing, learning, physical and/or visual disabilities and are not being tested at their special program site; need special editions of the test (Braille, cassette, large type, or reader's script); need special answer sheets; need more than 50 percent of extended testing time; need aids (abacus, typewriter, magnifying glass, readers, recorders, sign-language interpreters). The College Board does not provide honoraria for those who provide such services. Retaining a reader or other provider of special services is the responsibility of each parent."

Can you please check with the College Board/ETS to see if they believe this posted message accurately conveys to high school students at Walter Johnson High School the College Board/ETS policy? Does the College Board/ETS expect either the student or MCPS to pay for a reader for a student taking the SAT or other College Board tests, if the student has an approved accommodation of a reader for College Board tests?

Kathleen Gilhooly

Bethesda

I sent your query on to the College Board and received this reply from Paula Kuebler, its executive director of services for students with disabilities:

"We are looking into it, but I do want you to know that it does not reflect the College Board's policies or practices with regard to the provision of testing accommodations for the SAT when it says that "The College Board does not provide honoraria for those who provide such services" ( e.g., for readers, or scribes).

"The College Board recognizes and fulfills its responsibilities to students with disabilities by providing testing accommodations to students who require them. In each instance, the College Board: determines the appropriate testing accommodation(s), pays for the provision of the accommodation(s), and expects the testing site to provide the accommodation, including arranging for such accommodations as readers, at no additional cost to the student with disabilities or her/his parent(s). In the unique instance in which a school-based test site is unable to secure a particular accommodation, such as the student's usual reader or scribe, the College Board will arrange for the testing accommodation.

"With respect to deaf or hearing-impaired test-takers, as a courtesy and accommodation, the College Board makes available a full written copy of the test directions. The deaf or hearing-impaired test-takers may choose to use an interpreter to translate test directions from spoken English into American Sign Language or an English-based sign system (for College Board tests, only test instructions may be signed, not test content). If this is the only accommodation needed, the student may test at a national administration of the SAT. In these instances, as the College Board has provided an effective accommodation, the students bring their own interpreter."

Kent Weaver, supervisor of guidance services for Montgomery County schools, said that this is correct. But, he said, the College Board honorarium is sometimes not enough, and Montgomery County makes up the difference. In either case, students and their families should not be charged.