Dear Teacher

Question: At school my child who is in junior high gets more time on tests because of his learning disability. Can he also get extra time when he takes standardized test or tests like the SAT or ACT?

— Need to Know

Answer: Your child is getting more time on tests because of his learning disability. He has an education plan that has been developed by your school that details exactly what extra help he is eligible to receive. It is standard for a child who receives extra classroom time on tests to receive the same accommodations on all state and federal standardized tests. This accommodation includes extra time on the SAT or ACT tests.

If your son takes the test at a different school from the one he attends, he will need to take a copy of his most recent plan. These documents are updated yearly, so if it is not up-to-date, the school will not honor the extended time request. This is why it is very important to make sure that your child has a yearly meeting, especially when entering high school and college.

The College Board and ACT test companies have announced that students who use testing accommodations at their school through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved for taking their tests.

The test coordinator at your son’s school must now answer the following two questions:

1. Is the requested accommodation(s) in the student’s plan?

2. Has the student used the accommodations for school testing?

Check with your son to make sure he is using the extended time on all his tests because the test coordinator is required by law to keep this documentation. If your son is not using this time during the school year, he will not be allowed to use it on the SAT or ACT tests.

Question: Is there a difference between skimming and scanning? Or are they both the same skill?

— Puzzled

Answer: Skimming and scanning are different skills. Both skills help you pick out just a few bits of information that you can use later instead of really reading everything on all the pages.

Skimming gives you a general overview. Your eyes move quickly over a page, looking only for highlights, key words and phrases. When you skim, you read only a little bit of the information on the page. You skip most of the material. If children want to know what a chapter in their science books is about, they will read only the headings and glance at the pictures and charts. This is a smart thing for them to do before they read the entire chapter.

Scanning helps you find one thing quickly — like finding one person’s name on a list. You will need to combine what you have learned about reading from left to right with reading the page from top to bottom. Your eyes move quickly. Children should use scanning when they are looking for a specific event, like a battle in their social studies book.

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