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Do testing accommodations REALLY help students with ADHD?

A recent study suggests offering students with ADHD testing accommodations such as extended time or frequent breaks does not improve test scores.
The Study
This study, Academic Testing Accommodations for ADHD: Do They Help? was conducted by Alison Esposito Pritchard, a clinical psychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Along with the other researchers, she examined the test results and accommodations of 96 students with ADHD in Maryland.
The Accommodations
·         Reducing distractions
·         Having the test read aloud
·         Extended testing time
·         Frequent breaks
·         Calculator usage
Researchers concluded that none of these accommodations were associated with better test performance by the students on their Maryland School Assessments compared to similar peers.
Why not?
It seems logical that testing accommodations would be helpful to students. The results left researchers wondering why their results showed the opposite.
The researchers suggested three possible reasons.
  1. Students may not be taught how to use accommodations.
  2. Accommodations may not be presented the same way (computer read-aloud vs. teacher read-aloud).
  3. Students decide whether to use the accommodations they are given. 

This study was published in Learning Disabilities, a Multidisciplinary Journal.  To learn more check out this article in Education Week.

What impact could this research have for teachers and parents who make decisions about testing accommodations for students?

These results raise some practical questions worth asking.
  • Do students know what their accommodations are?
  • How are these accommodations administered?
  • How often are breaks given?
  • Do students ask for breaks or are they at given intervals?
  • How will a read aloud accommodation be given?
  • Does your student know how to use extra time?
  • What does reducing distractions mean?
  • Is anything done to help students learn how to best use their accommodations? 

What questions do you have?

Does this new research change your ideas on testing accommodations? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.


To sign up for one of these upcoming Fast Pass events, click the link below, search by your city, and click the date you are interested in. Morning and afternoon sessions are offered each day. You need to register as soon as possible because many dates and times are filling up and space is limited.

The dates above reflect upcoming dates for coaching days in Atlanta but classes are now offered in cities across the country. You can also check upcoming dates for Dallas, Orlando, Tempe, San Diego, Charlotte, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Sunrise (FL), Centerville (UT), El Segundo (CA), and Lombard (IL).

Do you have questions about VIPKID Fast Pass Coaching Events? Leave your questions in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them.

VIPKID Chinese New Year Reward System

Hello to all you amazing VIPKID teachers out there!

I recently put together a simple but fun reward system for Chinese New Year that my students have really enjoyed so I wanted to share it with you. It features cute Chinese New Year images with matching words. I have also included an adapted song that includes each of the images if you want to sing along as you reward your students during class.

You can download this free resource by clicking the image below. If you find this helpful, feel free to share it with others using the social media buttons below.


Parts of an IEP

To download this visual in PDF form, please click the IEP box below.    

Upcoming Atlanta vipkid fast past coaching days

8 Ways to Give Your DTT an Efficiency Make-Over and the Research behind It

If you have worked with students on the autism spectrum for very long, you are probably extremely familiar with the strict structure of discrete trial teaching (DTT). It is a systematic approach based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Research shows DTT is effective in teaching a variety of skills to our students. Each discrete trial has three main components: an instruction from the teacher or therapist (discriminative stimulus), a response by the student, and a consequence based on the student’s response. Additional factors can influence this instructional process including prompts given before the response, increasing the likelihood of accurate responses.
Recently, I read an article entitled “A Progressive Approach to Discrete Trial Teaching: Some Current Guidelines” published in the International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education from December 2016. The progressive approach that the article suggests feels a little like an instructional make-over. It retains the structure and bones of the old DTT but it provides more room for flexibility during instruction. The instructor is given greater freedom to make adjustments based on the student’s responses and needs.

The first suggested adjustment is to select and place targets based on the student’s responses instead of strictly following a predetermined plan. The teacher or therapist can assess the pattern of the student’s responses in order to make decisions about which targets to present next. This freedom to continue with a selected target or to change directions when needed can help instructors maximize learning during discrete trial teaching.

The second recommendation is to use more natural language when giving instructions. Previously, instructors used simple instructions to help students understand the directions. (e.g., “Touch red.”) The authors do not discourage simplified language, especially at the beginning stages of learning. However, they do point out the benefits of using more natural language. This adjustment can promote generalization, model natural language patterns, provide a more engaging lesson, and prepare the learner for more natural learning environments.