Accommodations Toolkit

Clarify/Simplify/Repeat Directions: States' Accessibility Policies, 2021

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National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)

This summary of states’ accessibility policies for clarify/simplify/repeat directions is part of the Accommodations Toolkit published by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO).[1] The toolkit also contains a summary of the research literature on clarify directions.

Accessibility policies often have several tiers of accessibility features: universal features, designated features, and accommodations.[2] Figure 1 summarizes how states included clarify/simplify/repeat directions in their accessibility policies for students with disabilities in 2021, and Figure 2 contains similar information for English learners. Table 1 shows how clarify/simplify/repeat directions was included in state policies, while Table 2 contains additional details and specifications.

Figure 1. States’ Accessibility Policies for Clarify/Simplify/Repeat Directions for Students with Disabilities, 2021

Reading/ELA/Writing

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 12 States
  • Accommodations (A): 6 States

Math

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 12 States
  • Accommodations (A): 6 States

Science

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 10 States
  • Accommodations (A): 6 States

Note: One state prohibits the use of clarify directions for students with disabilities.

Figure 2. States’ Accessibility Policies for Clarify/Simplify/Repeat Directions for English Learners, 2021

Reading/ELA/Writing

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 13 States
  • Accommodations (A): 8 States

Math

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 13 States
  • Accommodations (A): 8 States

Science

  • Universal Features (U): 14 States
  • Designated Features (D): 12 States
  • Accommodations (A): 8 States

Note: Two states prohibit the use of clarify directions for English learners. One of these states specifically  prohibits clarification of directions in a student’s native language.

Table 1. Accommodations Policies for Clarify/Simplify/Repeat Directions by State, 2021

U = Universal Feature, D = Designated Feature, A = Accommodation, ELA = English Language Arts, X = Allowed, SD = Allowed for Students with Disabilities, E = English Learners, P = Prohibited, Blank cell = no policy found, N = Notes in Table 2

State

Reading/ELA/Writing

Math

Science

Notes

(See Table 2)

U

D

A

U

D

A

U

D

A

Alabama

Alaska

X

SD, E

X

SD, E

X

SD, E

N

Arizona

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Arkansas

California

X

X

X

N

Colorado

X

X

X

N

Connecticut

E

N

Delaware

District of Columbia

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Florida

SD

SD

SD

N

Georgia

Hawaii

X

X

X

Idaho

X

X

X

N

Illinois

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Indiana

P(E)

P(E)

P(E)

N

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

E

E

E

N

Louisiana

X

X

X

N

Maine

X

X

X

N

Maryland

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Massachusetts

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Michigan

X

X

X

N

Minnesota

E

E

E

N

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

X

X

N

Nebraska

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Nevada

X

X

X

N

New Hampshire

New Jersey

X

X

X

N

New Mexico

X

X

X

New York

SD

SD

SD

N

North Carolina

North Dakota

X

X

X

N

Ohio

X

X

X

N

Oklahoma

SD

SD

SD

N

Oregon

X

X

N

Pennsylvania

SD

SD

SD

N

Rhode Island

X

X

X

South Carolina

South Dakota

X

X

X

N

Tennessee

X

X

X

N

Texas

Utah

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

N

Vermont

X

X

X

N

Virginia

Washington

X

X

X

N

West Virginia

X

X

X

N

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Total (Students with Disabilities)

14

12

6

14

12

6

14

10

6

Total (English Learners)

14

13

8

14

13

8

14

12

8

Table 2. Details and Specifications: States’ Clarify/Simplify/Repeat Directions Accessibility Policies, 2021

State

Details/Specifications

Alaska

Universal Feature:

Clarification of technology directions. Student may request clarification of technology directions.

Accommodation:

Clarification of test directions:

  • Student requests clarification
  • Student restates directions

A test administrator may provide clarification of assessment directions. This does not apply to assessment questions, answer choices, or embedded directions.

Clarification of embedded test directions:

  • Student requests clarification
  • Student restates directions

A test administrator may provide clarification of assessment directions. This does not apply to assessment questions, answer choices, or embedded directions.

Clarification of test directions in English or the native language:

  • Student requests clarification
  • Student restates directions

Clarification should not provide additional directions or examples.

Arizona

Accommodation:

Simplified Directions – The Test Administrator may provide verbal directions in simplified English for the scripted directions from the Test Administration Directions manual. This must take place in a setting that does not disturb other students. No test content or directions embedded within the test may be simplified.

California

Designated Feature:

The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the Test Administration Manual. Refer to the Guidelines for Simplified Test Directions at https://portal.smarterbalanced.org/library/en/guidelines-for-simplified-test-directions.pdf.

Colorado

Universal Feature:

Upon request from a student, the Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions (SAY directions) only after reading the directions word-for-word from the Test Administrator Manual. A student may also raise their hand and request repetition of the directions. Clarifying or reading passages or test questions for students is not allowed.

Connecticut

Designated Feature:

All test directions may be read and clarified in English, or the student’s native language, for English learner students who have been identified as needing this support. A non-certified or certified staff person trained in test administration and security may administer this designated support.

District of Columbia

Universal Feature:

General Administration Directions Clarified:

The Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions only. No passages or test items may be clarified.

Accommodation:

General Administration Directions Clarified as Needed in Student’s Native Language (by Test Administrator):

Test administrator clarifies general administration instructions only. No part of the test may be clarified or translated. Test administrators providing this accommodation should be literate and fluent in English, as well as in the student’s native language. If this is unable, then the test administrator may be assisted by a translator who speaks the language of the student. Students should be given ample time to process directions and ask clarifying questions about the directions. Students must be tested in a separate setting with other students needing the same accommodation to minimize distractions. Note for Remote Testing: Schools are to develop a process for providing this accessibility feature for students testing remotely.

Florida

Accommodation:

Test directions may be repeated, clarified, or summarized as many times as a student requests.

Idaho

Designated Feature:

The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the Smarter Balanced Test Administration Manual according to the Guidelines for Simplified Test Directions. Students who need additional support understanding the test direction may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

Illinois

Universal Feature:

General Administration Directions Clarified:

During Testing: The Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions only. No passages or test items may be clarified.

Accommodation:

General Administration Directions Clarified in Student’s Native Language (by Test Administrator):

During Testing: The Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions only in the student’s native language. Test Administrators, or other qualified interpreters, providing this accommodation should ideally be literate and fluent in English, as well as in the student’s native language; or Test Administrator may be assisted by a translator who speaks the language of the student, if available.

Indiana

NOTE: As a reminder, clarifying test directions in the student’s home language is not considered a valid accommodation in Indiana.

Kentucky

Accommodation:

Use of Simplified Language Support for an EL Student (directions only):

Students receiving this accommodation must have a current PSP [program support plan]. Simplified language can ONLY be provided for directions and never on test content.

Simplified language and vocabulary shall not change the overall context of the test materials or the content but ensures that students understand how to take the test. Specific words may be exchanged, but words cannot be defined as part of simplifying language. Directions for test administration may be described using fewer complex words (i.e., the word “assessment” becomes “test”) and sentence structure (i.e., break a sentence into smaller sections). It is considered best practice to use a word-to-word translation. Simplified language includes breaking directions into parts or segments or using similar words or phrases that are easier for the student to understand.

Louisiana

Universal Feature:

The Test Administrator may clarify general administration directions only. No passages or test items may be clarified.

Maine

Designated Feature:

After directions have been read, the test administrator may ask the student to explain what he/she has been asked to do. If directions have been misunderstood by the student, the directions may be paraphrased or demonstrated. Assessment items MUST NOT be paraphrased or explained.

Maryland

Universal Feature:

General Directions Clarified:

The Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions only. No passages or test items may be clarified.

General Directions Read Aloud and Repeated as Needed:

The Test Administrator reads aloud the general administration directions only. A student may raise his or her hand and request the directions be repeated.

Accommodation:

General Administration Directions Clarified as Needed in Student’s Native Language (by Test Administrator):

The Test Administrator clarifies general administration directions only in the student’s native language. Test Administrators or other qualified interpreters providing this accommodation should ideally be literate and fluent in English as well as in the student’s native language, or they may be assisted by a translator who speaks the language of the student, if available.

General Administration Directions Read Aloud and Repeated in Student’s Native Language (by Test Administrator):

The Test Administrator or other qualified interpreter reads aloud the general administration instructions in the student’s native language. The student may request that directions be repeated. The student must be tested in a separate setting.

Massachusetts

Universal Feature:

Test administrator reads aloud, repeats, or clarifies general test administration directions from the Test Administration Manual scripts to student, as needed.

Accommodation for English Learners:

Test administrator reads aloud/repeats/clarifies general administration directions in English (from the Test Administration Manual scripts).

Test administrator reads aloud/repeats/clarifies general administration directions (from the Test Administration Manual scripts) in student’s native language, if native language speaker is available.

Michigan

Universal Feature:

To ensure that students are not disadvantaged on the actual test questions, directions can be repeated or restated; also, students may ask for clarification, if needed.

Minnesota

Designated Feature for English Learners only:

Simplified or clarified directions can be provided by the Test Monitor for English learners; they are not provided by MDE. The Test Monitor can simplify or clarify the scripted Testing Directions using vocabulary that the individual student would understand and therefore know how to take the test. However, the Test Monitor cannot change the meaning of the directions or provide information that would lead or cue the student. The use of simplified or clarified directions should be documented on the Test Administration Report (TAR).

Clarify/explain test directions in student’s first language.

Montana

Designated Feature:

The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the Test Administration Manual according to the Guidelines for Simplified Test Directions. Students who need additional support understanding the test direction may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

Nebraska

Universal Feature:

Test administrator rereads, simplifies or clarifies directions aloud for student as needed.

Accommodation for English Learners:

Native language clarification of directions: Test administrator simplifies, explains, or clarifies directions in native language. Clarification of directions in native language is helpful for an emerging or a progressing student.

Nevada

Designated Feature:

Simplified test directions: The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the Smarter Balanced Test Administration Manual according to the Guidelines for Simplified Test Directions. Students who need additional support understanding the test direction may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

New Jersey

Universal Feature:

General administration directions read aloud, repeated, or clarified as needed.

New York

Accommodation:

For students who are deaf or hard of hearing: Test administration directions may be clarified or interpreted if the substance of the directions is not changed.

North Dakota

Designated Feature:

Simplified test directions: An Educator or test administrator rephrases/or simplifies the directions for learners during instruction and assessment.

Ohio

Universal Feature:

The test administrator must read the scripted general directions for starting all administrations and must not deviate from the script. After the test administrator has read the directions, students may ask for the directions to be repeated or clarified. General directions may be translated or signed (e.g., ASL). General directions include the scripted information for students that comes before the test starts. Once students have begun the test, nothing may be clarified.

Oklahoma

Accommodation:

Student may ask for clarification, simplification, signage of directions. This does not include test questions or answer choices. Students may have directions reread for each page of questions.

Oregon

Designated Feature:

Simplified test directions: The test administrator reads the simplified or paraphrased test directions as found in the respective Student Directions for (content area) sections of the Oregon Test Administration Manual (TAM). Students who need additional support understanding the test directions may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

Pennsylvania

Accommodation:

Read Aloud Test Directions: Read aloud of the test directions is included in the Directions for Administration manual. This is standard and not bubbled as an accommodation. The Test Administrator (TA) may provide clarification of test directions and/or direct the student to the correct section of the test.

South Dakota

Designated Feature:

Simplified test directions: The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the test administration manual according to the Simplified Test Directions guidelines. Students who need additional support understanding the test directions may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

Tennessee

Designated Feature:

General Administration Directions Read Aloud and Clarified and/or Repeated as Needed:

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. The test administrator may clarify directions upon request. No passages or items may be clarified.

Utah

Clarification of directions is not allowed on any assessment.

Vermont

Designated Feature:

Simplified test directions:

The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions found in the Smarter Balanced Test Administration Manual according to the Guidelines for Simplified Test Directions. Students who need additional support understanding the test direction may benefit from this resource. This designated support may require testing in a separate setting to avoid distracting other test takers.

Washington

Designated Feature:

Repeat and clarify directions; Modify/model directions; Rephrase directions; Give short, concise directions; Give extra time to process information; Repeat directions in more than one way.

West Virginia

Universal Feature:

Students can raise their hand at any time to ask the test administrator to clarify or explain directions. Note: This accommodation should be chosen if the student requires directions to be simplified.

Attribution

All rights reserved. Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced and distributed without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

  • Lazarus, S. S., Quanbeck, M., & Goldstone, L. (2021). Clarify/simplify/repeat directions: States’ accessibility policies, 2021 (NCEO Accommodations Toolkit #11b). National Center on Educational Outcomes.

NCEO is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326G160001) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. The Center is affiliated with the Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. NCEO does not endorse any of the commercial products used in the studies. The contents of this report were developed under the Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education, but does not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Project Officer: David Egnor