The American with Disabilities act (ADA)

Published 17 Feb 2017

Table of content


The importance of assess students who have disabilities continue to draw considerable importance ever since the enactment of American with Disabilities act (ADA) in 1990. Even though, many of the needs for assessing such students were in the past justified basing on the law. The act helped to highlight the issue further. According the ADA disability is being mental or physical impaired in a way to limit ones life activities, or having a record of impairment either physical or mental.

Modification of test

This are modifications that are done on testing processes or test formats which offers students who have disabilities an equal chance to take part in test conditions and to reveal their abilities and knowledge. Test modification may change the manner that test article or items are offered to the students, the way the student responds to the test items, or the manner in which the student will use to get the response to the test items given. It is important that test modifications are not too much as they may alter the standard of the test too much which should not be the case. (Kim & Nicewander, 1993)

Modification can also be defined as changing the course, the standard, preparation timing, scheduling, location student response, expectation or any aspect that provides access for a disability student in participating in a learning course or test, which will significantly change or lower the set standard or anticipation of the course or the test. In simple words modification is cognitive and structural change in the standard of learning material.

  • Some of the modification that can be done includes but are not limited to;
  • Subject matter presentation; applying special curriculum developed at a lower standard understanding
  • Assistance technology/ equipment and material; simplifying or adopting books for a lower level of comprehending, through modification of content areas through simplifying concepts, vocabulary and principles
  • Grading; changing credence of examinations
  • Testing adaptations; lessening the reading level of the test
  • Assignments; lessening the reading standard of assignment, through adapting simplified vocabulary packets and worksheets (Kim & Nicewander, 1993)

Making the modification to work

For a student to able to get an equal education opportunity, the student should be a warded a chance to receive a grade, in case the IEP do not differentiate between any grading system to be used then the assumption is that the student has to be given a grade in accordance with the school grading system. It is important that only grade modification stated by the IEP. Basically, student who have disabilities are supposed to receive grades and also credits in a similar way like others when they graduate from their respective schools. (Thompson & Thurlow, 2001)

When modifying the grades of the student it is important the modification should not just be based on the individual special needs, as this may be viewed as discrimination against the student. Modification of grades should be given, and also be available to other students and not the disability students alone.

Aims and Advantages of the test modifications

The main aim of test modification is assist disability students to be able to take part in test activities on the same base with those students who have no disability. Test modifications provides a chance for disability students to be able demonstrate their understanding of skills that the have mastered and their knowledge without being hindered or unjustly restricted because of their disability status. (McDonnell, et al 1997)

In order to determine the needs of the student, who has disability, test modification has to emphasis the need of changes to and not just the advantages of modification. Test modifications are offered so as to tackle a disability, and also they are supposed to reduce the impact of a disability of a student. Equally, these test modifications are not supposed to act as an alternative for abilities and knowledge that a student is supposed to gain, but has not gained. At the same time these modifications should not be meant to provide an unjust advantage against other students who are also participating in the test or the examinations by lowering their standards. The truth a student wit disability may be anticipated to get a better score when undertaking test modification is not the basis of providing the test modifications as they will not then achieve their main objectives. (McDonnell, et al 1997)

Alternative assessment, modifications and accommodations, seem to be essential for a student with disability to be able to succeed when working on learning materials. For example a student who has a cerebral palsy might be able to participate in carefully selected exercises in physical education using special tools or equipments. The figure below summarizes the advantages of using the test modifications on students with disability. (McDonnell, et al 1997)


The main shortcoming of these test modifications is thought to be the ineffective of making the student with the disability to maximizes his/her opportunity of learning using the available standard material. The test modifications only seem to reduce frustration of the student, but it does not fill the learning gaps that the student may have. And in many cases may prevent the student from achieving consistent success in relation to the curriculum requirements. Another thing is that some students have pronounced disabilities that even when they are given test modifications they do not benefit academically and other ways need to be used in order to assist them. (Mercer & Mercer, 1998)

Even though the use of test modifications is important in providing a level playing ground, the primary importance in educating students wit h disabilities is providing proper remediate to their education skill shortfall in the most possible way and in the shortest time possible. Thus it is important that such students should be assisted through providing a tailor-made education program which has to include modified frequent and remediation lessons is the best way in helping these students overcome their learning deficit. Table two shows the main disadvantages of the test modifications. (Mercer & Mercer, 1998)

Tests provide a way of measuring the performance of students in their learning and they are important in building and also strengthening the student learning abilities with the student is disabled or not. Tests, together with students grading and evaluations of the teacher, can be used to provide a significant measurement of the student’s abilities, knowledge and skills. Thus, test has to be part of education system in which wider and equal access to education advancement and opportunity are provided for each students include those with disabilities. Test when modified properly can provide objective and sound measurement of the performance of the student. However, if the tests are modified in a poor manner, they may lead to unfavorable consequences to the students who have disability, as they will fail to offer the true picture of the students’ abilities, skills or knowledge.


Test modifications remains important are ensuring that students with disabilities are given a fair chance of participating in the tests that are offered in schools. However, when formulating these modifications it is important that the instructor and the school come up with test modifications which retain the set standards of education in order to retain the value of education. Also the test modifications need to be available to other students to avoid a feeling of discrimination among the student with disability. However, test modification remains with some shortcomings in their effectiveness of assisting the disability students. As the need for education measures increase, test modification will have to be redesigned to meet challenges of accurate measurement of students’ performance.


  • Bauer, A. M & Shea, T. M (1999): Inclusion 101 – How to Teach All Learners. Baltimore; MD: Paul H; Brookes Publishing Co.
  • Bielinski, J. et al (2000): How out-of-level testing affects the psychometric quality of test scores. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.
  • Mercer, C. D & Mercer, A. R (1998): Teaching Students with Learning Problems. 5th Edition; Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  • Kim, J., & Nicewander, W. (1993): Ability estimation for conventional tests. Psychometrical, 58, 587 – 599.
  • Krueger, R. (1994): Focus groups; A practical guide for applied research (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • McDonnell, L. M, et al (1997): Educating one and all: Students with disabilities and standards-based reform. National Research Council, Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Thompson, S., & Thurlow, M. (2001): State special education outcomes: A report on state activities at the beginning of a new decade. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.
Did it help you?