The results of the GAO study were reported by USA Today columnist Mary Beth Marklein on 12/28/11. According to Marklein, the study was done at the request of three members of the House of Representatives. The main allegation is that the DOJ has failed to enforce laws “that provide disabled students with special accommodations for taking the SAT, bar exam and other high-stakes tests.” And the GAO and the House members are urging Attorney General Eric Holder to “conduct periodic compliance reviews of testing companies in addition to strengthening the Justice Department's review of citizen complaints.”
The chief complaint is that individuals with visual impairments, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder require accommodations such as extra time and special software so that the tests can reflect “their aptitude rather than their disability.” According to Marklein, the GAO studied 9 testing companies, and “almost all” failed to change any of their practices in response to regulation this past spring that broadened the definition of disability and reduced “burdensome documentation.” For their part, the testing companies believe they are not required to make accommodations when requests are unreasonable or if the applicant has not proven they need the accommodation.
In short, there is a balance here between a fair playing field for individuals without disabilities versus special demands of individuals with disabilities. We will search for the actual GAO report and make it available when we get it.
by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology