Braille Monitor                                                     December 2007

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Regarding Accommodations for High Stakes Testing

WHEREAS, Americans encounter high-stakes testing in at least four pivotal contexts: gateway testing, which determines admission to undergraduate and graduate school; K-12 standardized-progress testing, which assesses both schools and individual performance and, among other results, determines high school graduation in some states; mastery-of-skills testing, used most often to ascertain a studentís mastery of a subject for correct placement in or satisfaction of college course requirements; and licensure testing, through which numerous professions grant or withhold permission to practice a profession; and

WHEREAS, all four types of tests are standardized and administered under rigid security and advance or admit successful test takers to a desired and desirable result; and

WHEREAS, blind citizens of all ages share the dread and the hope of their sighted counterparts when approaching any high-stakes test, but blind citizens carry an extra and onerous burden because our methods of reading and writing do not fit into the definitions of standardization and the parameters of security of the high-stakes testing industry; and

WHEREAS, each blind citizen who approaches one of these test contexts does his or her best with inadequate tools, manages some solution, and moves on, leaving the context unchanged for the next blind victim since the testing context itself is rigidly individualized and demands that each participant enter and leave alone; and

WHEREAS, standardized test providers and administrators range from large private companies to state governments to professional associations to combinations of any two or three, rendering the solution of one personís testing difficulties irrelevant to a different person struggling at the same time in the same city with a different set of owners, providers, and administrators; and

WHEREAS, a partial list of these difficulties includes no access to practice materials and tests in alternative media; unnecessarily complex and burdensome procedures for testing in an alternative medium, which often results in postponing a key testing event to the disadvantage of the blind person; refusal of test owners and/or administrators to allow testing in a medium commonly used by blind people; refusal of test owners and/or administrators to design computer testing to include blind test takers; demands by test owners and/or administrators for administration in outmoded alternative media; and refusal of test owners and/or administrators to recognize that not all human readers are good readers and that meeting and pretraining a human reader is an appropriate accommodation; and

WHEREAS, these broad failures and the many quirky variations upon them experienced by an ever-growing line of blind test victims are almost impossible for a single test taker to combat and overcome due to the complexity of ownership and responsibility, the time-sensitive nature of most high-stakes testing, and the smokescreen raised by all too many test owners and administrators that accommodations for the blind will, they say, breach test security or invalidate standardization; and

WHEREAS, the result for blind people of this sprawling high-stakes testing mess is that high-stakes testing of the blind tests the stamina, perseverance, determination, and creativity of every blind test taker before the testing day is ever reached and then all too often tests his or her ability to train a human reader under stressful conditions or to use an unfamiliar reading medium under stress rather than the purported purpose of the test itself, leading to scores often wildly at odds with the studentís potential or the professionalís routine performance, an outcome that allows standardized testing to brand blind victims as underachievers when they are merely being scored for taking a high-stakes test under adverse and often adversarial circumstances; and

WHEREAS, modern methods of production of materials, including tests, in alternative media have long since eliminated any rationale for the lack of high-stakes tests in the medium to which a blind test taker is accustomed; and

WHEREAS, most testing unfairness victimizing blind students could be eliminated by the careful crafting of requirements governing the use of high-stakes testing in educational contexts by the U. S. Department of Education (DOE), which could by regulation adopt a Testing Bill of Rights for the Blind in cooperation with high-stakes testers and the National Federation of the Blind which would mandate the use of modern production methods for practice and test materials, the elimination of unnecessary delays in achieving routine accommodations for blind citizens, and the abandonment of prejudices concerning alternative media along with requiring test authors to test subjects or mastery rather than the ability to see or to train a reader; and

WHEREAS, the U. S. Department of Education has regulatory authority that reaches from K-12 through graduate schools and is also concerned with licensure testing for teachers, meaning that its regulations would cover most high-stakes testing, and the areas not specifically covered by DOE regulations would soon be positively affected by a resolution of this problem with which all test owners and administrators ineffectually wrestle: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 2007, in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization forcefully draw to the attention of the U. S. Department of Education the urgent need for a Testing Bill of Rights for the Blind and the Department of Educationís responsibility and opportunity to solve the high-stakes testing challenge so frightening and yet so important to Americaís blind citizens in a way very different from the testing difficulties of other citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization use all persuasive and legal means at its disposal to bring about a regulation which can be known as and which can function in reality as a Testing Bill of Rights for the Blind.


Consider a Charitable Gift

Making a charitable gift can be one of the most satisfying experiences in life. Each year millions of people contribute their time, talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. When you plan for a gift to the National Federation of the Blind, you are not just making a donation; you are leaving a legacy that insures a future for blind people throughout the country. Special giving programs are available through the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

Points to Consider When Making a Gift to the National Federation of the Blind
· Will my gift serve to advance the mission of the NFB?
· Am I giving the most appropriate asset?
· Have I selected the best way to make my gift?
· Have I considered the tax consequences of my gift?
· Have I sought counsel from a competent advisor?
· Have I talked to the planned giving officer about my gift?

Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB
· Helping the NFB fulfill its mission
· Receiving income tax savings through a charitable deduction
· Making capital gain tax savings on contribution of some appreciated gifts
· Providing retained payments for the life of a donor or other beneficiaries
· Eliminating federal estate tax in certain situations
· Reducing estate settlement cost

Your Gift Will Help Us
· Make the study of science and math a real possibility for blind children
· Provide hope for seniors losing vision
· Promote state and chapter programs and provide information that will educate blind people
· Advance technology helpful to the blind
· Create a state-of-the-art library on blindness
· Train and inspire professionals working with the blind
· Provide critical information to parents of blind children
· Mentor blind people trying to find jobs
Your gift makes you a part of the NFB dream!

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