Bolt, S. E., & Thurlow, M. (2004). Five of the most frequently allowed testing accommodations in state policy: Synthesis of research . Remedial and Special Education , 25 (3), 141–152.

Journal Article

Bolt, S. E., & Thurlow, M. (2004). Five of the most frequently allowed testing accommodations in state policy: Synthesis of research. Remedial and Special Education, 25(3), 141–152.


Braille; Dictated response; Dictated response (scribe); Elementary; Enlarged print (on paper); Extended time; High school; Middle school; Signed administration; U.S. context




Research on five commonly allowed testing accommodations (dictated response, large print, braille, extended-time, and sign language interpreter for instructions) was reviewed.


In this review, the 36 included studies (a) were conducted after 1990, (b) focused on the effects of accommodations for students with disabilities in Kindergarten through grade 12, (c) focused on the effects of accommodations on achievement or college entrance tests, and (d) allowed for the analysis of the effects of single accommodations rather than accommodations given in packages. The relevant studies were completed within the U.S. educational system.

Dependent Variable

The dependent variables of the studies included in this review were scores on tests in a variety of different content areas (writing, math, reading, social studies, language arts, etc.).


Dictated response: several studies found that all students did better when dictating responses to a scribe, but scores were not implausibly high for students with disabilities. Many teachers are aware of this accommodation, but might find it difficult to provide. Large print: several studies did not find an increase in scores with the provision of this accommodation, although other studies suggested that it may be helpful for third grade students. Braille: Two studies examined the Braille version of the SAT and found that math items in braille may be especially difficult. Extended time: studies suggested that there may be only a slight differential advantage for students with disabilities using the extended time accommodation over non-accommodated students. Sign interpreter for instructions: students reported that they understood the signed version of the test better, but they preferred the standard version because it took less time. Implications for future research and for practice are discussed.