Crawford, L., & Ketterlin-Geller, L. (2013). Middle school teachers’ assignment of test accommodations . The Teacher Educator , 48 (1), 29–45.

Journal Article

Crawford, L., & Ketterlin-Geller, L. (2013). Middle school teachers’ assignment of test accommodations. The Teacher Educator, 48(1), 29–45.


Breaks during testing; Calculation device or software (interactive); Clarify directions; Colored lenses/overlays; Enlarged print (on paper); Extended time; K-12; Oral delivery; Oral delivery of directions only; Oral delivery, live/in-person; Small group; Specialized setting; U.S. context




Despite the many accommodations permitted under states' laws averaging 47 different accommodations, interviews of special education teachers about knowledge of accommodations and decision-making processes yielded that a narrower set of about nine were typically used.


Twenty middle school teachers from nine schools in five U.S. states (California, Idaho, New York, Oregon, and Texas) participated in interviews for this study. The teachers were special education directors or were the only special education teacher at their school. The researchers reported on the demographics of the schools and about the gender and work experience of each teacher-participant.

Dependent Variable

Participants were asked a series of interview questions designed to discern their knowledge of and attitudes toward accommodations and accommodations policies, and their accommodations decision-making processes.


The most commonly used accommodations reported by most teachers were extended time, frequent breaks, read-aloud of directions and/or items, separate setting, and small group administration. About 10 percent or fewer teachers indicated that they used calculators, large print, checking for students' understanding, and colored overlays. Many of the teachers (70%) indicated that accommodations were effective for their students. Only a couple teachers made decisions alone, with 90% reported IEP team involvement; only one teacher sought input from students. The researchers reported that assignment of accommodations typically did not draw on student data, with only three teachers indicating data were used, and that more often, convenience and teachers' intuition and judgment were primary factors. When discussing rationale for accommodations decisions, nearly all (n=18) teachers reported procedural answers including state policies; without state policies and procedures, nine teachers indicated that they would test students at their instructional level rather than their grade level. Only three teachers indicated that the purpose of accommodations was associated with test score validity and comparability, and most identified accommodations' effect on students' well-being, such as their emotional state and self-esteem. The researchers recommended important elements and related activities of professional development for teachers based on these study results, including score comparability and validity, data-based decision-making, and accessibility. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.