Standardized Testing and Diabetes
The Rights of Students
Students with diabetes at all levels have a right to receive reasonable accommodations so that their mastery of the material is tested, not their diagnosis of diabetes. However, it is often necessary to request these accommodations in advance. Accommodations may be very simple. For example, permission to bring in diabetes supplies and food. Or they can be a bit more complex. For example, extra breaks.
K-12 Public School Assessments
State and local public educational agencies have an obligation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to make sure that students receive appropriate accommodations on assessment tests.
College and Graduate School Entrance Exams and Professional Licensing Exams
At all levels of education, standardized testing and licensing agencies are prohibited from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes students with diabetes. Agencies must provide reasonable modifications to such individuals. Applicants taking a variety of exams including the SAT, ACT, GRE and LSAT may request reasonable modifications in the administration of these exams. Similarly, individuals taking nursing, medical, law and other professional licensing exams may make such requests.
Even if you have never officially sought accommodations, you may need to request even simple accommodations. For example, you may use an insulin pump and never have had an issue with your college. However, a bar exam may have a strict prohibition on all electronic devices. In this case, you would need to request advance authorization in order to enter the testing site with your insulin pump. As soon as you know (or your child) will be taking an assessment or exam, you should find out about the accommodations policy for the particular test.
It may be necessary to re-question advance permission to:
- Bring in a blood glucose meter
- Have access to snacks to treat hypoglycemia
- Be able to take an extended break, if necessary, to take care of diabetes needs
- Chapter 9 of Going to College with Diabetes is devoted to standardized tests
- Parent Spotlight on 504 Plans and Common Core State Standards and Assessments, Arizona Department of Education and National Center on Educational Outcomes