Assessment Accessibility & Accommodations

Accessibility and Accommodation Presentation

The department has created an additional resource to assist teams in selecting and understanding both accessibility features and accommodations (here). If you have additional questions, please contact

Determining Appropriate Accommodations

A resource provided to educators, students, and parents when making decisions regarding appropriate accommodation use for both instruction and assessment.

Tennessee is committed to providing an assessment that best measures student mastery of the rigorous Tennessee State Standards. Tennessee’s approach to assessment is rooted in the knowledge that students are diverse and are capable of making progress toward grade-level expectations. Annual assessments are designed for all students using Universal Design for Learning principles, including those who have disabilities and English learners, and recognizing that the validity of assessment results depends on every participating having appropriate access to the assessment.

This accessibility section was developed to support district- and school-level personnel the selection and administration of allowable test administration considerations, accessibility features, accessibility features identified in advance, and accommodations for individual students in order to produce valid assessment results. Please note: In order to be available on the day of testing, some accommodations must be indicated prior to testing.

This section will guide district- and school-level personnel, as well as decision-making teams, including individualized education program (IEP) teams and 504 plan teams, as they prepare for and implement the Tennessee general assessment. This document also provides information for educators of English language learners, intervention specialists, and related services personnel to use in selecting and administering accessibility features needed by individual EL students. It accentuates an individualized approach to the implementation of assessment practices for participating students. A quick view chart provided here will give educators and parents an overview of the supports available to all students, students served with an IEP, and EL.

This section is not applicable to students who will participate in the Tennessee Alternate Assessments designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities. For guidance or information regarding alternate assessment, please visit the Alternate Assessment for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities site.

Allowable Test Administration Conditions: Available to any student based on individual need

Students are generally tested in their regular classroom and follow the standard test administration schedule for the grade and content area tested. Certain students may require testing at a different time or testing space as long as all requirements for testing conditions and test security are met.

Mathematics Calculator Use

At all grade levels and in all courses, TNReady will include both calculator permitted subparts and a calculator prohibited subpart.

  1. The first subpart of each math assessment will be calculator prohibited.
  2. The remaining subparts will be calculator permitted.
  3. Sharing calculators during testing is not permitted.
  4. It is the responsibility of the Test Administrator to ensure the regulations outlined in this policy pertaining to calculator use are followed.
  5. All memory and user-entered programs and documents must be cleared or removed before and after the test.
  6. A student may use any grade-band-permitted calculator on a calculator-permitted subpart. For calculator-permitted subparts of TNReady, students may use a handheld calculator provided by the school/district or one owned personally.
  7. Students should have access to no more than one handheld calculator device for calculator-permitted subparts of TNReady.

For more information, see the TNReady Calculator Policy for Mathematics.

Timing, Scheduling, Locations

The following administrative considerations regarding the timing, scheduling of assessments, and setting/locations for testing are available for any student.

Administrative Consideration


Small Group Testing

Student is tested in a separate location with a small group of students with matching accessibility features, accommodations, or testing needs as appropriate. The maximum number of students allowed in a small group is 10.

Time of Day

Student is testing during specific time of day based on their individual needs (e.g., ELA/Literacy in the morning; no testing after lunch).

Separate or Alternate Location

Student is tested in a location other than their originally scheduled testing classroom.

Specified Area or Setting

Student is tested in a specialized area or setting (e.g., in front of the classroom, seat near the door, library, on homebound, etc.)

Adaptive and Specialized Equipment or Furniture

Student is provided specialized equipment or furniture needed for successful testing environment (e.g., low lighting, adaptive seat).

Frequent Breaks

Guidance on logistics for administering the TCAP assessments with frequent breaks:

  1. Medical Breaks: Student takes a break due to existence or sudden onset of a temporary or long-term medical condition. Student’s testing time stops during a medical break.
  2. Individual Bathroom Break: Student requests a bathroom break within their overall allotted testing time. Student’s testing time does not stop.
  3. In-Chair Stretch Break: Student pauses and stretches. Student’s testing time does not stop.

Rest/Break Accommodation: Based on individual need as outlined in a behavior plan, IEP, EL or medical plan which requires additional rest/breaks, the team should select the rest/breaks accommodation.

Because of security issues, TDOE must maintain the single day administration for individual sub-parts of each assessment. Permitting the administration of a single subpart over multiple days would allow for educators and students to review the test content in advance.

Breaks during subparts are an allowable test administration condition for the administration of the assessment.

  1. These breaks must be monitored and test booklets must be closed.
  2. No discussion of the test content is allowed.
  3. Test administrators may institute as many breaks as needed; however, students must complete the administration of each subpart in a single school day.
  4. As always, schools can choose to break-up the subparts with another activity, such as completing one subpart before and one subpart after lunch, taking a recess between subparts or taking subparts on consecutive school days. 
  5. Subparts must be taken in order.
Accessibility Features

Accessibility Features for All Students, Including Features Identified in Advance

Students should determine whether they wish to use these tools on an item-by-item basis, based on the tools they use during instruction and in daily life. Where applicable, the chart will include the test administrator activities before, during, and after testing necessary for successful implementation of the accessibility tools. There are a few tools which must be pre-identified for the student before testing begins. When needed, this information is included in the “before-testing” guidance.

Identified in Advance

A small number of students will require additional accessibility features to meet their individual needs. These accessibility features will be selected ahead of time based on the individual needs and preferences of the student.

It is recommended that a consistent process be used to determine these supports for individual students.

If a student uses an accessibility feature allowable for all students, for example read aloud in math, the accessibility feature must be coded in SDDV.

Accessibility Tool Administrative Guidelines Additional Considerations for Use
Highlighter Before Testing: Test Administrator provides student with highlighter(s). Students may use a highlighter to highlight text in a passage or item in their test book as needed to recall and/or emphasize. Multiple colors may be provided as needed.
Straight Edge Line Reader/Mask Tool Before Testing: Test administrator ensures the student has direct access to a blank straight edge or blank masking card.

Allows student to track the line he or she is reading. Students are able to focus their attention on a specific piece of text at a time. This may be a notecard, ruler, etc., as issued during daily instruction. The student may cover or uncover answer options and/or text with blank masking cards as needed.

The masking tool is recommended for students who have attention difficulties. It may also be needed by students with print disabilities or visual impairments. Students may need to mask content not of immediate need which may be distracting.

Auditory Aids

Before Testing: Test Administrator ensures student’s access to the necessary auditory aid.

During Testing: The student uses amplification device assistive technology (e.g., FM System), noise buffers, or white noise machines provided by the student or by the school.

The student should continue to use the same auditory aides during assessment as required during daily instruction. Music is not permitted to be played during the assessment. If headphones are used only as noise buffers, they should not be plugged into a device.
Color Overlay Before Testing: Test Administrator provides student with access to colored overlays.

Students will use the same color overlay during assessment as are required in daily instruction.

Students with attention difficulties may need this support for viewing test content. It also may be needed by some students with visual impairments or other print disabilities.

Human Reader/Human Signer Math, Social Studies

Before Testing: Students must be placed in a Read Aloud small group. Test Coordinators must assure that all materials are appropriately ordered.

During Testing: Text is read aloud to students per teacher. Students must be tested in small group setting with only those with the need. Numbers must be read digit by digit so as not to give away place value information. For a student with a hearing impairment who requires a human signer to access text, the student may be provided this accommodation in accordance with daily instruction.

This feature is not recommended for students who are currently reading on or just below grade level. If not used regularly during instruction, this support is likely to be confusing and may impede the performance on assessment. This support should only be reserved for the struggling readers who need assistance accessing text. This may be used with beginning and intermediate ELs.
Place Marker Before Testing: Test administrator provides student with place marker. The student may use place marker to “bookmark” items to review later.
Scratch Paper

Before Testing: Test administrator provides at least one page of blank scratch paper (i.e., either unlined, lined, or graph) per student.

During Testing: The student uses blank scratch paper to take notes and/or work through items. Additional pages may be provided as needed.

After Testing: Test administrators are responsible for collecting all scratch paper after testing is completed to be securely destroyed. Scratch paper must be securely shredded if it has been used. Schools may reuse unused scratch paper only if the paper is completely blank.

Scrap paper should be collected at the end of testing and securely destroyed.
Eliminate Answer Choices During Testing: The student may use removable markers (e.g., small strips of paper) to indicate that they are eliminating the answer. Please note any stray marks on the answer document may conflict with accurate scoring.
General Administration Directions Read Aloud and Clarified and/or Repeated as Needed During Testing: The test administrator reads aloud the general administration directions only per the test administration manual. A student may raise his or her hand and request the directions be repeated. A student may raise his or her hand and request the directions be repeated. The test administrator may clarify directions upon request. No passages or items may be clarified.
Magnification/Enlargement Device Before Testing: Test administrator provides student with magnification/enlargement device The student uses an external magnification or enlargement device to increase the font or graphic size (e.g., projector, CCTV, eye-glass mounted or hand-held magnifier, electronic magnification system, etc.). The student should use the same type of magnification equipment during assessment as is used during daily instruction.
Redirect Student to the Test During Testing: The test administrator redirects the student’s attention to the test without coaching or assisting the student in any way. There is no limit to the number of times a test administrator can redirect a student back to the test. Examples: providing reminders to stay on task and focused during the assessments; providing a visual cue to the student to remain on task.
Glossary in Footnotes During Testing: Student refers to a glossary of pre-selected, construct-irrelevant words in the footnotes of the paper-based test. The test administrator may read the words included in the footnoted glossary as requested by the student. The test administrator may not clarify the text in any way.
External Spell Check Device Before Testing: Test administrator provides student with external spell check device. The student uses an external spell check device. Device may not have embedded grammar check, connect to the internet, or save information. As with all tools, the use of this during assessment is based on individual need.
Student Reads Assessment Aloud to Him or Herself

Before Testing: Test administrator ensures student’s testing environment is conducive to read aloud to self.

During Testing: The student reads aloud the assessment to self in a manner which will not be overheard by other students.

Student may use an external device such as a whisper phone.


An accommodation removes or decreases a barrier that makes a task difficult; it does not change the task itself. Accommodations are not provided to help a student perform better on the assessment. Accommodations are provided to level the playing field in order to allow the student with a disability the same access as a student without the disability. Many people wear contacts or eyeglasses to correct their vision. Eyeglasses and contacts are an accommodation that allows people with imperfect vision to accomplish many everyday activities. Simply because an individual wears eyeglasses/contacts doesn’t mean that he or she will perform perfectly on any given task. However, wearing eyeglasses/contacts  provides an individual with imperfect vision the same access to everyday tasks as those with perfect vision. Once the accommodations are in place for those who need it, we can assess how well a person does on the task (how proficient they are).

Accommodations are available only to students with a disability served under an Individual Education Program (IEP), 504 Plan, or students classified as EL, and only when the student requires the accommodation(s) to participate in the assessment meaningfully and appropriately.

Please note: one exception to the IEP or 504 requirement is for students who have had a physical injury (e.g., broken hand or arm) that impairs their ability to independently respond.

Administering TNReady Assessments with Testing Accommodations

Prior to the test, test administrators must know what accommodations each student will be using and how to administer them properly. Testing accommodations provided for one student may not impede or impact other students in the testing room. It is the responsibility of the Test Administrator to see that each student who qualifies for testing accommodations receive them with efficacy while also ensuring that other students who do not receive accommodations are not affected. Accommodations must be properly recorded in SDDV.

Accommodations for Students with an Injury

Students with an injury (e.g., broken arm or hand), which would make it difficult to participate in an assessment, may use, as appropriate, any of the following accommodations.

Accommodation Description
Adult Transcription (A) An adult marks selected response items based on student answers provided orally or using gestures. An adult transfers student responses to the answer document
Assistive Technology (B)

Use of assistive technology for the writing response and/or other open response items. An adult must transfer the student’s responses exactly as written to the answer document. Any print copy must be shredded. Any electronic copy must be deleted. This accommodation also requires Adult Transcription.

Students may use the same assistive technologies to respond as they do during daily instruction.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities may use any of the accessibility features identified in advance and any of the following accommodations, as designated in their IEP or 504 Plan.

Accommodation Description
Adult Transcription (A) An adult transfers student responses to an answer document.
Assistive Technology (B)

Use of assistive technology for the writing response and/or other open response items. An adult must transfer the student’s responses exactly as written to the answer document. Any print copy must be shredded. Any electronic copy must be deleted. This accommodation also requires Adult Transcription.

Students may use the same assistive technologies to respond as they do during daily instruction.

Braille/Large Print Test Booklet Not available for field test.
Extended Time (C) Not to exceed double time. If a student has a need to exceed double time, please submit a Unique Accommodation Request.
Human Reader/Human Signer for ELA/Science (D)

The purpose of the human reader/human signer accommodation for the ELA/Literacy assessment is to provide access to printed or written texts for a very small number of students with print-related disabilities who would other be unable to participate in the assessment because their disability severely limits or prevents their ability to access printed text. Human Reader or Human Signer can be provided to students who have a severe deficit in vision, hearing or a print disability based on accommodation selection guidance.

Human Reader or Human Signer for the content area of Science is an IEP team decision.

Visual Representations for Math (E) This accommodation may be used in place of scratch paper for students who typically use an abacus or manipulative such as cubes, tiles, rods, blocks, etc. This accommodation may not be used on the non-calculator sections of the assessment and is only applicable for students with a visual impairment.
Rest/Breaks (F) This allows for the student to take additional rest/breaks based on a need as outlined in a behavior plan, IEP, EL or medical plan at any time during the subpart. Each subpart must be completed within one test day. Required testing times may not be exceeded.
Unique Accommodation Request (G) This request process is provided to review any accommodation not listed for a student with an identified need. The accommodation may not invalidate or modify any intended test construct.
Accommodations for English Learners

Students who are not proficient in English, as determined by ACCESS for ELLs, may use, as appropriate, any of the accessibility features and any of the following accommodations. Students who are also in the T1 and T2 years are eligible to continue to receive EL accommodations.  Students whose parents have waived services are eligible to receive accommodations for ELs. As ELs gain in English proficiency, their need for support may decrease. The language proficiency of the student should be taken into consideration when determining appropriate EL accommodations.

Accommodation Description
Extended Time (R) Not to exceed double time.
Word-to-Word Dictionary (S) The student may use an approved bilingual, word-to-word dictionary. Dictionaries that include definitions, phrases, sentences, or pictures are not allowed. The student should be familiar with the dictionary they will use during testing. Students should be given ample time to complete the test using the accommodation. If no hard copy word-to-word dictionary can be found for a specific language, contact the Tennessee Department of Assessment for additional guidance.
Rest/Breaks (T) This allows for the student to take additional rest/breaks based on a need as outlined in a behavior plan, IEP, EL or medical plan at any time during the subpart. Each subpart must be completed within one test day. Required testing times may not be exceeded.
EL Excluded (U) EL students who are in their first year of enrollment in a U.S. school may be excluded from participation in the ELA and Social Studies/U.S. History assessments. First-year EL students are still required to participate in math and science assessments, however their math scores may be excluded from accountability.
Human Reader/Human Signer for Science (V) Any student identified as EL, T1 or T2 may have the Science content assessment read aloud per recommendations by the ESL team.

Note: EL Excluded should be verified using the Search or Mass Edit features in SDDV on EdTools. Students may not be excluded from accountability calculations for more than one year.