By: Mary Ware for LearnWell
As spring begins to grow closer with each turn of the calendar, so too does school testing season. March and April are busy months, with most school districts participating in state-standardized testing or other grade-wide testing initiatives. It is important for hospital administrators, teachers, and others involved in the program management of hospital education programs, to understand testing requirements and be prepared to accommodate testing for student-patients as needed.
Unless exempted, all students in most states are required to undergo state achievement testing a few times during their K-12 educational career. When students are admitted to hospitals or residential treatment programs, or are provided with home based services, school districts are still required to provide academic services to these students—and this includes state testing.
Though some students may be granted exemptions from state testing while admitted to a treatment facility, still others will not be, and the facility may be expected to allow for opportunity for the student-patient to take the test during their stay.
Here are a few important things to take note of when planning your hospital education programming, and preparing student-patients for possible testing scenarios.
- Schools/Districts are likely to have their own policies and procedures surrounding testing for students in Homebound/Hospital settings.
It is important to communicate with sending school districts immediately upon admission, in order to coordinate academic services and identify any potential testing and/or necessary documentation for exemption from state testing.
- Discuss and prepare for testing circumstances.
If a student is required to sit for a state exam, the procedures are likely to be more in-depth and complicated than simply taking a class test that is sent over with the student-patient’s schoolwork. Exams may need to be administered by a trained or approved proctor, and may have to take place during the designated state testing window.
Consider having your hospital teachers trained to administer/ proctor state-exams in preparation of this need, to make the process easier. If no one onsite is approved by the district to administer an exam, they may need to send in a proctor, which may then require starting the hospital or treatment facilities’ clearance and paperwork for volunteers or visitors.
It is important to note for planning purposes that there may also be other restrictions to the student’s environment required by the test, including in some cases no additional family members present in the room during the course of the test, procedures to secure the test during restroom breaks or breaks for medical treatment, and other policies.
- Determine existing student accommodations or request team input on IEPs for future accommodations.
While state achievement tests are required to be delivered in a controlled environment and may not be modified, students may receive accommodations for those tests if listed on their IEPs (Individualized Education Program).
Such accommodations may include:
- Time (such as offered breaks, flexibility in time of day, or session duration);
- Personnel/Setting (such as seating arrangement, or familiarity with the person administering the test);
- Delivery/Format (such as reading directions, or computerized testing)
- Other forms of accommodations including a scribe to record student answers.
If student’s do not currently have accommodations, but are being treated for something that the team feels may affect their performance, encourage your team to provide that information to the school so that proper accommodations may be discussed in future IEP meetings.
- Prepare student-patients for testing.
The additional stress of standardized testing during admission may be difficult or anxiety-producing for some students. It is essential that the team works together to address any potential issues, and prepares the student-patient ahead of time so they know what to expect, and know what their options are during the course of the test (such as requesting breaks, or continuing the test on another day).
While certain student-patients may receive medical exemptions from state achievement testing, it is important for hospital and other facilities to prepare for the circumstances where students may be required to participate during their admission.
By taking the time to prepare, the process is likely to be much less invasive and will run much more smoothly than having to handle situations as they happen.