The ACT (American College Test) was first introduced in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), and seems to have eclipsed the SAT at this point. Many vision therapy practitioners are approached by parents of high schoolers to request support for accommodations on standardized tests. The SAT guidelines for accommodations are straightforward, and from an optometric standpoint still leave requests for extended time or breaks to professional judgement and standardized documentation within one’s field of expertise.
Although additional break time would make sense for test takers who merely experience visual fatigue with sustained close work, the problem is more challenging for students who have visual conditions resulting in variability of vision. The advantage of extended time, as opposed to imposed breaks, is that the student can self-pace depending on how his or her visual system is functioning at specific points in time. Obviously due to the nature of these standardized tests, much of the visual demand centers on reading, as well as the precision required in entering data.
The ACT Policy for Documentation has a curious paragraph its section on Visual Impairment, and I’m referring specifically to item 3 here regarding the request for extended time:
The applicant must provide diagnostic results from a complete ocular examination performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Documentation must address the following:
- Specific ocular diagnosis;
- Record of complete, current (within past 12 months) ocular examination including: chief complaint, history of illness, visual acuity, complete ocular motility exam (versions, tropias, phorias, stereopsis), slit lamp exam, visual field, pupil exam, optic nerve, and retina; and
- If the diagnosed condition is purported to affect reading, results of a measure of reading (decoding, rate, and comprehension) are required. Examples of acceptable measures of reading include the WIAT-III and GSRT. Assertions of poor reading speed (or other conditions requiring additional time) made by vision professionals must be corroborated by educational and/or psychometric data. Letters from an eye care professional and/or a Visagraph score are not acceptable as evidence of reading problems requiring extended time on the ACT.
What do you think prompted the ACT to put in that exclusion?