Documentation must address a test taker’s disability-related functional limitations as they directly apply to the life activity of taking a standardized test. To facilitate this, most testing agencies, including ETS, have guidelines regarding the suggested recency of disability documentation. Generally, for all disability categories, information regarding the test taker's longer standing history of disability is very important, and documentation should verify the functional impact of the disability as it relates to the current test-taking situation. For learning disabilities (LD), ADHD or autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a diagnostic evaluation completed within the past 5 years and/or when the test taker was at least 16 years of age may be helpful. For psychiatric disabilities, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other disabilities that are more changeable or modifiable with medication or treatments, documentation (i.e., letter/report) dated within 1 year of the date of the accommodations request typically provides a good understanding of the functional impact of the test taker's disability-related functional limitations in the current testing situation. For a traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury or brain surgery that occurred more than 1 year ago, documentation from 1–3 years after the event occurred may be helpful. If the disability is a permanent health or sensory impairment (e.g., cerebral palsy, blindness, etc.), a rationale provided by a qualified professional generally provides sufficient understanding of the test taker's functional limitations as related to the current testing situation.
ETS has concerns about the increasing cost of neuropsychological and psychoeducational evaluations that many test takers with disabilities may have to bear. For test takers with LD and/or dual diagnoses of LD/ADHD, a comprehensive reevaluation is no longer necessary. Instead, a documentation update may be sufficient when the test taker:
- has a longstanding history of LD or LD/ADHD (and preferably which has been documented); and
- has received accommodations through the Disability/Accessibility office on campus or through their employer's HR office. [Please note that if a test taker has been approved for accommodations on another standardized test (e.g., SAT®, ACT®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, etc.), verification of such prior approval is sufficient. Reevaluation is not needed if the test taker is requesting the same accommodations which another testing agency has previously approved.]
If a documentation update is indicated, it is often helpful to send earlier documentation along with updated information (if documentation is more than 5 years old). The update should demonstrate the ongoing impact of the disability on academic performance. Since intellectual functioning is typically stable in adulthood, re-administration of a cognitive measure such as the WAIS or a similar instrument is not necessary if such a measure was administered in the evaluation covered by the initial report. A documentation update should include:
- a historical review of earlier testing, and
- recent information which demonstrates the ongoing impact of the disability on academic performance. Updated achievement and/or processing measures may be helpful.