Assessment in Higher Education: Issues of Access, Quality, Student Development, and Public Policy

By Samuel J. Messick | Go to book overview

14
COMPUTER-BASED TESTING FOR EXAMINEES
WITH DISABILITIES: ON THE ROAD TO
GENERALIZED ACCOMMODATION

Randy Elliot Bennett

Educational Testing Service

This chapter examines how the advent of computer-based testing (CBT) might improve postsecondary admissions assessment for examinees with disabilities. We begin by reviewing the context and current status of testing examinees with disabilities, using "comparability" as a fundamental standard. Next, we assess the implications of computer-based testing for improvements in this comparability. We conclude by introducing the concept of "generalized accommodation" as one avenue for potentially resolving the comparability issues raised by modified tests.


FAIRNESS IN TESTING

In 1973, Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act, Public Law 93-112. Section 504 of that act called for nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in all programs receiving federal funds.1 The implementing regulations, which included educational admissions and recruitment, contained several test-related stipulations ( Non-discrimination on Basis of Handicap, 1977). First, the regulations essentially required that tests accurately reflect the capabilities of disabled applicants and not their impairments (except where those 'impairments overlapped with the skills the tests were intended to measure). Second, in the event of adverse impact, tests were

____________________
1
In its entirety, Section 504 states, "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States as defined in Section 7(6), shall, solely by reason of handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

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