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What Can I Do to Prepare My Child with Special Needs for the Upcoming Yearly State Exams?

February 23rd, 2012

In the spring, students across New York state will start to take yearly exams in language arts, mathematics, and science. These tests help the state’s department of education measure student progress in the elementary and middle school system. The tests assess mastery of the state’s learning standards, and parents should know that their child with special needs is allowed accommodations to successfully take the test.

Students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can have appropriate accommodations or take New York State Alternate Assessments (NYSAA) from third to eighth grade. As these tests are used to gauge if a student can go onto the next grade, it is important that parents get involved early on to prepare their child for advancement. Parents should speak with their child’s teachers, school, and the school district so that a child has the tools to demonstrate his or her learning. Be sure that a child’s IEP has these accommodations in writing before the big tests begin in April.

Accommodations help a child with special needs have a level playing field, not an unfair advantage, when taking the tests. For example, this can include more time to complete a high-stakes test, using computers for spell check, having a teacher read the test instructions or questions, and being in a separate room or small group.

Checklist to be sure your child receives adequate accommodations to take high-stakes tests:

  • Talk to your child’s teachers and school early on about accommodations or alternate testing
  • Put accommodations in writing in your child’s IEP plan
  • Consult with a New York special education attorney about your child’s needs to ensure they receive a fair and appropriate test setting
  • Work with your child to ensure mastery of the concepts in the upcoming language arts, mathematics, and science exams

To learn more about New York special education advocacy or New York special needs planning, visit

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This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.