Policy Statements for Specific Disabilities

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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Documentation Guidelines for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Documentation must:

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Qualified evaluators are defined as those licensed individuals who are competent to evaluate and diagnose ASD or who may serve as members of the diagnostic team. 
  2. Include test taker’s identifying information: Include the test taker’s identifying information including age at the time of their evaluation. In addition, the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated and signed. The qualified professional’s training, expertise in the diagnosis of ASD, and appropriate licensure/certification are also essential. 
  3. Be current: Documentation needs to be within the last five years. See section 3 of the policy statement. A documentation update for ASD is a brief report or a narrative by a qualified professional that includes a summary of the previous disability documentation findings as well as additional clinical and observational data to establish the candidate’s current need for the requested testing accommodations. 
  4. Include a comprehensive history: Include a comprehensive history of presenting problems associated with the disability as well as information on the test taker’s medical, developmental, educational, employment and family history. This should also include the date of diagnosis, duration, and severity of the disorder. 
  5. Include relevant observations of behavior during testing: Behavioral observations, combined with the clinician’s professional judgment and expertise, are often critical in helping to formulate a diagnostic impression. This may include the test taker’s level of motivation, cooperation, anxiety level and attentiveness during diagnostic testing. 
  6. Include relevant testing domains: ETS acknowledges that a multi-disciplinary assessment approach is often critical for the diagnosis and treatment of the individual with ASD. Assessment domains may include any of the following: cognitive, expressive and receptive language, psychiatric and/or behavioral, and academic achievement. See section IV (Relevant Testing Domains) of the policy statement. See (Appendix III) for a full list of tests for assessing adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. 
  7. Include all test scores as standard scores and/or percentiles using adult measures
  8. Provide specific diagnosis/diagnoses: The report must include a diagnosis, or diagnoses, of ASD as stipulated in the DSM-5 or the ICD- 10 and any co-morbid conditions, preferably with the accompanying numerical code(s). 
  9. Discuss the current impact of the disorder on academic performance, employment, and other daily activities: Include additional sources of information such as school-based records (e.g., IEP, Section 504 Plan, Summary of Performance) or other related documents regarding the test taker’s history, eligibility for services, and/or history of accommodations use in school and/or employment. 
  10. Include specific recommendations with a rationale based on objective evidence: Establish a link between the requested accommodations and the functional impact of the diagnosed disability that is pertinent to the anticipated testing situation. 
  11. Include an interpretative summary: The interpretative summary at the end of the report is useful because many of the core features of ASD are not captured easily in test scores. The evaluator should rule out, to the extent possible, other diagnoses that may affect the expression of an autism spectrum disorder. See section II, B of the policy statement. See section IV of the policy statement.
  12. When applicable, include additional sources of information: Other sources of documentation can be used to corroborate symptoms of the disorder and support the need for the requested accommodation(s). This can include a detailed letter from a college disability services provider, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or a human resources professional describing current limitations and use of accommodations. In addition, a personal statement from the test taker in his/ her words explaining academic difficulties and coping strategies may also be helpful.

Learning Disabilities

Documentation Guidelines for Learning Disabilities

Documentation must:

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of LD, offering clinical judgments, and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so. See section I of the policy statement. 
  2. Include test taker’s identifying information: In addition to the test taker’s identifying information, the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated, and signed. See section I of the policy statement. 
  3. Be current: In most cases, a diagnostic evaluation must have been completed within the past five years. 
  4. Include a comprehensive history: Include a comprehensive history of presenting problems associated with the disability as well as information on the test taker’s medical, developmental, educational, and family history. This should also include the date of diagnosis, duration, and severity of the disorder. 
  5. Include relevant observations of behavior during testing: Include observations of behavior during the diagnostic evaluation which may help to form a diagnostic impression when combined with the clinician’s professional judgment and expertise. 
  6. Include a comprehensive battery of cognitive and achievement tests, using the most recent edition of measure, with adult norms: In most cases, a psychoeducational or neuropsychological assessment will be useful in determining the degree to which the learning disability currently impacts the individual relative to taking standardized tests. See section VI, B of the policy statement. See section (Appendix B) for a full list of tests for assessing adolescents and adults with learning disabilities. 
  7. Include all test scores using standardized adult measures: See section VI, D of the policy statement. 
  8. Provide specific diagnosis/diagnoses: Include at least one specific diagnosis based on the latest edition of the DSM or the ICD and indicate the level of severity of the disability. 
  9. Discuss the current impact of the disorder on academic performance, employment, and other daily activities: Include additional sources of information such as school-based records (e.g., IEP, Section 504 Plan) or other related documents regarding the test taker’s history, eligibility for services, and/or history of accommodations use in school and/or employment. See section V of the policy statement.
  10. Include specific recommendations with a rationale based on objective evidence: Establish a link between the requested accommodations and the manifested symptoms of the learning disability that is pertinent to a standardized testing situation. 
  11. Include an interpretative summary: The interpretative summary at the end of the report should rule out, to the extent possible, other potential diagnoses that may alter the expression of the disability, including cross-cultural factors, ESL, lack of educational opportunity, and/or medical conditions that may mimic a disability. A documentation update is required for diagnostic evaluations not completed within the last five years. A documentation update is a brief report or narrative by a qualified professional that includes a summary of the previous disability documentation findings as well as additional clinical and observational data to establish the test taker’s current need for accommodations. This provision is only applicable to test takers with LD, ADHD, and/or LD/ADHD.

ADHD

Documentation Guidelines for ADHD

Documentation must: 

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of ADHD, offering clinical judgments, and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of ADHD and other psychiatric disorders and direct experience in diagnosis and treatment of adolescents and adults with ADHD is necessary. 
  2. Include test takers identifying information: In addition to the test taker’s identifying information, the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated and signed. 
  3. Be current: Because the provision of reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the test taker’s disability on the testing activity, it is necessary to provide “recent” documentation completed within the past five years. 
  4. A documentation update: A documentation update is a brief report or narrative by a qualified professional that includes a summary of the previous disability documentation findings as well as additional clinical and observational data to establish the test taker’s current need for accommodations. 
  5. Include a comprehensive history: Because developmental disabilities such as ADHD are usually evident during early childhood (though not always diagnosed), historical information regarding the individual’s academic and behavioral functioning in elementary and secondary education should be provided. There should also be an emphasis on how the ADHD symptoms have manifested across various settings over time and how the test taker has coped with these problems. Self-report alone, is not sufficient. 
  6. Relevant testing information must be provided: The assessment of an individual must not only establish a diagnosis of ADHD in accordance with the DSM-5, but must also demonstrate the current impact of the ADHD on the test taker’s ability to learn. Checklists and/or ADHD symptom rating scales can be helpful as well as neuropsychological or psycho-educational assessments in identifying the individual’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses. 
  7. Alternative diagnoses must be ruled out: Given the high-rate of co-morbidity, it is recommended that evaluators investigate and discuss the possibility of dual diagnoses and alternative coexisting mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or other health issues that may confound the diagnosis of ADHD. The positive impact of medications as well as side effects of medications should also be considered. See section III, C of the policy statement. 
  8. Each accommodation recommended must include a rationale: The report should address the history of prior accommodations that test taker has received as well as a rationale as to why each accommodation is now necessary. 
  9. Additional sources of information may include: A personal statement from the test taker in his/her own words explaining academic difficulties and coping strategies used may be useful. Additional sources of information may include school-based documents such as, IEPs, Section 504 Plans, or prior reports.

Physical Disabilities and Health-Related Conditions

Documentation Guidelines for Physical Disabilities and Health-Related Conditions

Documentation must: 

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Professional qualifications of those providing diagnoses, offering clinical judgments, and making recommendations for accommodations for test takers with physical disabilities and chronic health-related conditions must hold appropriate licensure/certification and have comprehensive training and relevant expertise in the specialty. In addition, the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated, and signed. 
  2. Include test taker’s identifying information: Provide the test taker’s identifying information, including full name and date of birth. 
  3. Be current: Documentation needs to be from an evaluation conducted within the last six months. Some physical disabilities and chronic health conditions are of a permanent nature (e.g., cerebral palsy, diabetes). In such cases the information provided can be a simple statement from a qualified professional that indicates the functional impact of the disability or chronic health condition. See section II of the policy statement. If the nature of the medical condition is episodic or transitory (e.g., lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome), the documentation should address the frequency and duration of the test taker’s current functional limitations and need for accommodations. 
  4. Provide specific diagnosis/diagnoses: Qualified professionals are encouraged to cite the specific objective measures used to help substantiate diagnoses. 
  5. Discuss the current functional limitations: This would include daily life activities in academic and/or employment environments, with the understanding that a physical disability or chronic health condition usually presents across a variety of settings. 
  6. Discuss side effects the test taker experiences from prescribed medications and therapies. 
  7. Include a rationale for each accommodation or device: Establish a link between the requested accommodations and the individual’s current functional limitations that is pertinent to the testing situation.

Psychiatric Disabilities

Documentation Guidelines for Psychiatric Disabilities

Documentation must: 

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Qualified evaluators are defined as those licensed individuals who are competent to evaluate and diagnose psychiatric disabilities. The name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated, and signed. The qualified professional’s training, expertise in the diagnosis of psychiatric disabilities, and appropriate licensure/certification are also essential. 
  2. Include test taker’s identifying information (full name and date of birth): See section I of the policy statement. 
  3. Be current: Documentation needs to be from an evaluation that was conducted or updated within the last six months. A documentation update for psychiatric disabilities is a report or a narrative by a qualified professional that includes a summary of the previous disability documentation findings as well as additional clinical and observational data to establish the candidate’s current need for the requested testing accommodations. 
  4. Include a comprehensive history: Include a comprehensive history of presenting problems associated with the disability as well as information on the test taker’s medical, developmental, educational, employment, and family history. This should also include the date of onset, duration, and severity of the disorder. 
  5. Include relevant observations of behavior: Behavioral observations, combined with the clinician’s professional judgment and expertise, are often critical in helping to formulate a diagnostic impression. 
  6. Provide specific diagnosis/diagnoses: The report must include at least one specific diagnosis based on the DSM-5 or the ICD-10, preferably listed in a specific diagnostic section of the report with the nominal diagnosis and accompanying numerical code. 
  7. Include information about psychotropic medication management and side effects: If the test taker is being treated with psychotropic medication, include the name of each specific agent, dosing regimen, and any actual side effects experienced by this individual. 
  8. Include specific recommendations with a rationale based on objective evidence: Establish a link between the requested accommodations and the manifested symptoms of the disorder that is pertinent to the anticipated testing situation. See section V of the policy statement. 
  9. Include additional sources of information if appropriate: A personal statement from the test taker in his/her own words explaining academic difficulties and coping strategies used may be helpful

Traumatic Brain Injury

Documentation Guidelines for Traumatic Brain Injury

Documentation must: 

  1. Be completed by a qualified evaluator: Professional qualifications of those providing diagnoses, offering clinical judgments and making recommendations for accommodations for test takers with traumatic brain injuries must hold appropriate licensure/certification and have comprehensive training and relevant expertise in the specialty. In addition, the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator should be included on letterhead, typed in English, dated and signed. Reference Section I of the policy statement. ETS acknowledges that documentation of this complex condition may be medically, psychologically, academically and/or vocationally oriented. In most cases, a neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation will be useful in clarifying the functional impact of the diagnosed disability and in supporting the underlying rationale for accommodations on a standardized test. Given the complexity of the traumatic brain injury diagnosis, the review process is highly individualized. 
  2. Include test taker’s identifying information: Provide the test taker’s identifying information, including full name and date of birth. Reference Section I of the policy statement. 
  3. Be current: It is important that the clinical information submitted to ETS for review should accurately reflect the applicant’s current functional status. Since further recovery can occur, the applicant’s accommodation needs are not necessarily fixed as of the date of the evaluation. The submitted functional profile should reflect the capacities of the test taker in a time frame that is relevant to the anticipated standardized test administration. If the head injury or trauma occurred within the last year, ETS needs current documentation. For those individuals whose injury occurred more than one year ago, documentation may be from within the last three years. Reference Section III of the policy statement. Individuals with traumatic brain injuries often experience co-occurring disabilities (i.e., “comorbidities”) such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), psychiatric disabilities (e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.), and/or physical disabilities or chronic health conditions (e.g., headaches, nausea, seizures, loss of bowel or bladder control, etc.). If a test taker has multiple diagnoses that may affect his or her ability to perform on test day, test takers and evaluators should consult the appropriate ETS documentation guidelines 
  4. Provide specific diagnosis/diagnoses: Qualified professionals are encouraged to cite the specific objective measures used to help substantiate diagnoses. Reference Section II of the policy statement. Concussion and Post-Concussive Syndrome (PCS) are clinical subsets of traumatic brain injuries. Please see Appendix B, “Assessment Tools for Post-Concussive Syndrome.
  5. Discuss the current functional limitations: This would include daily life activities in academic and/or employment environments, with the understanding that a traumatic brain injury presents across a variety of settings. Reference Section IV of the policy statement.
  6. Discuss side effects the test taker experiences from prescribed medications and therapies. Reference Section IV of the policy statement. 
  7. Include a rationale for each accommodation or device: Establish a link between the requested accommodations and the individual’s current functional limitations that is pertinent to the testing situation.

Blind, Legally Blind or Low Vision

Documentation Criteria for the Blind, Legally Blind or Low Vision

If you are blind or legally blind, you do NOT need to submit documentation if you are submitting a Certification of Eligibility: Accommodations History and you are requesting only accommodations from the list below.

  • Screen magnification
  • Selectable background and foreground colors
  • Braille
  • Large print (test book and/or answer sheet)
  • Computer-voiced (GRE® revised General Test only)
  • Audiocassette or CD recording
  • Reader
  • Scribe
  • Braille slate and stylus
  • Perkins brailler
  • 50 percent extended time (time and one-half)
  • Extra break(s)

If you are blind or legally blind, a request for 100 percent extended time (double time) does not require documentation if you are submitting a Certification of Eligibility: Accommodations History and you are requesting braille, a reader, audio recording, or the computer-voiced GRE revised General Test.

Documentation Guidelines for Blindness and Low Vision

NOTE: Many individuals with visual impairments can apply for accommodations on ETS tests WITHOUT submitting documentation of their disability.

For those who DO need to submit documentation of a visual impairment, the ETS Vision Documentation Statement has three parts:

  • Part 1 is to be completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
  • Part 2 is to be completed by the disability services provider or other qualified professional.
  • Part 3 is to be completed by the test taker with a disability.

The Vision Documentation Statement must:
a. be completed by a qualified evaluator, usually an optometrist or ophthalmologist (Part 1). Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of visual impairments, offering clinical judgments, and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so.

  • Include the name, title, and credentials of the qualified professional writing the report.
  • Include a diagnosis, a description of current functional limitations, a history, and any relevant current medical information. 
    b. reflect current functional limitations (Part 1; also parts 2 and/or 3, as appropriate). 
    c. include specific recommendations with a rationale based on objective evidence (Parts 2 and 3; Part 1 if appropriate). Establish a link between the requested accommodations or devices and the visual impairment that is pertinent to a standardized testing situation. See section V, D of the policy statement.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Deaf or Hard of Hearing Documentation Requirements

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you do NOT need to submit documentation if you are submitting a Certification of Eligibility: Accommodations History and you are requesting only accommodations from the list below.

  • Listening section omitted (TOEFL iBT® and paper-delivered test)
  • Speaking section omitted (TOEFL iBT test only)
  • 50 percent extended testing time (time and one-half)
  • Extra break(s)
  • Printed copy of spoken directions
  • Sign language interpreter (for spoken directions only)
  • Oral interpreter (for spoken directions only)