College Board tests-From Carlton Walker so please contact her for further questions.
Carlton Anne Cook Walker
Attorney at Law
BEAR–Blindness Education and Advocacy Resources
Teacher of Students with Blindness/Low Vision
President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
101 Kelly Drive
Carlisle, PA 17015
Given the lack of availability of UEB Math from the College Board, students who are not permitted to learn Nemeth Code will be unable to take the following tests:
o The ONLY means by which a student may compete to become a National Merit Scholar
This will place these students at a severe disadvantage in their pursuit of post-secondary education.
o Pursuing AP study is favored by colleges. Will they understand they the blind student couldn’t take the AP Calculus exam?
o The AP test costs less than one hundred dollars, but a student may earn three to eight credits by passing the test. This saves a significant amount of money for the students’ families. Will schools be willing to pay for a comparable college course for students unable to take an AP exam because Nemeth instruction was withheld from them?
o Students who cannot take the Accuplacer exam will likely be placed in lower-level classes than is appropriate.
o Taking additional, but unneeded, classes increases expense as well as the time needed to matriculate to a degree.
o Again, are school districts willing to pay for the harm done to students as a result of having Nemeth Code instruction withheld?
Even students who are permitted to learn Nemeth Code (but are also forced to learn UEB Math) will be able to take College Board tests, but they will also be burdened with needlessly learning two math codes: one to please their school and one to serve them for life.
In your advocacy, please stress that the push toward UEB Math is a de facto denial of FAPE (free appropriate public education) because no non-disabled students are being forced to learn and use a math code which is region-specific and which restricts the student’s post-secondary education options.
Several school districts in Virginia have opined that they “must: teach UEB Math so that students may take the required end-of-course tests, Standards of Learning tests (SOL tests), which Virginia offers only in UEB Math.
However, Virginia also provides many alternatives to the SOL tests for all students in the state. Please find attached the most recent version of the list of acceptable test alternatives to the SOLs.
Under Math, PSAT tests, SAT tests, SAT Subject tests, AP tests, and CLEP tests all qualify as SOL alternatives. As noted above, all of these tests are available only in Nemeth Code. Thus, withholding Nemeth Code instruction significantly limits the availability of SOL alternative tests which would be available to a blind student in Virginia.
It is worth noting that the ACT (a nationwide college entrance exam that is currently available in both Nemeth Code and UEB Math) is not permitted to serve as an SOL Alternative test in the following subjects: Geometry, Earth Science, Biology, or Chemistry). Thus, Braille-reading students who do not know Nemeth Code have few SOL alternative tests in these areas.
Regarding another possible test, the Cambridge International Examination, these tests are prepared in UEB only; their “How to apply for modified papers” notes: “there are no longer any special codes for maths and computer braille, one code is used for all.” (from http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/340841-how-to-apply-for-modified-papers.pdf). Additionally, there is only one school in the entire state of Virginia which is listed as a “Cambridge school” on the www.cambridgeinternational.org website. That school is the Parkside Middle School, a part of the Prince William County School District. This is likely an illusory option, even for individuals attending the school because it is highly unlikely that any middle school student would be prepared to take end-of-year course examinations in all of the following subjects:
Regarding the International Baccalaureate tests, I cannot find any recent information on accessibility for this test. Some information I found from 2011 states: “A school must ensure that the candidate is familiar with the Braille code used for each examination paper (for example, Nemeth Braille Code for science and mathematics notation).” (from http://www.haef.gr/~/media/Files/HAEF/IB/pdf/Info_for_parents/Candidates_with_SpecialAssessmentNeeds_2011.ashx?la=en). While this information is seven years old, it is clear that Nemeth Code was the standard for this test. Like the Cambridge program, a student must attend a high school with the IB program to take one of these tests. Only thirty-nine high schools in Virginia have such a program, and three of them are private schools.
UEB Math need not be a requirement in Virginia. In fact, if a student does not know Nemeth Code, s/he is at a severe disadvantage in both post-secondary school options and in SOL alternative test options. UEB Math is limiting; Nemeth Code is freeing and empowering.
Please see the clarification set forth in the email below that the state of North Carolina is NOT forcing students to learn UEB Math and that math code choice is an IEP decision.
“From: Amy Campbell <Amy.Campbell@dpi.nc.gov>
Date: October 18, 2018 at 2:04:45 PM EDT
Subject: Braille — It’s a Team Decision
While North Carolina supports the implementation of students using the “full UEB” as opposed to “Nemeth with UEB embedded”, it remains an IEP team decision as to which braille instruction path best fits the student’s needs.
When ordering statewide tests, LEAs have the option for both types of braille. The ACT (college board exam) can also be produced in the full UEB.
The Braille Authority of North American supports BOTH types of braille.
BANA’s decision to transition to UEB:
BANA’s intention was not to “have states choose”—the intention was that ALL UEB symbols be available for use in any context. Since the English Braille American Edition didn’t include any math symbols, it was a true “literary” code. UEB is not a literary code, it’s a general purpose code that can be used in all contexts—and was designed to be that way. All UEB symbols are available for use in all contexts. The 2015 BANA statement says is that choices can be made to benefit students. BANA is not “taking anything away”–BANA is ADDING options.
The choice of braille for technical materials is an IEP team decision and should be based on the unique needs of the student, regardless of any state adoption plan. If a student learning the full UEB leaves our state and moves to another state that primarily uses Nemeth, the student’s IEP (which supports full UEB) will still need to be honored. And the same is true if a student using Nemeth moves to my state. What this means is that for the time being, we educators must have knowledge and proficiency in using both codes.
For questions or concerns, please feel free to email or call Crystal and myself. We are here to support you on your journey as a professional.
Thank you for all the many things you do for students!! You are appreciated.
Educational Consultant for Visual Impairment
NC APH Ex-Officio Trustee
Exceptional Children Division
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
When I went to the Louisiana Center for the Blind, there were two other young adult students who had the same eye condition as me: Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis or LCA. The three of us became friends, and would joke about being part of an exclusive “club.”
During one of our class discussions, one of the guys with LCA mentioned that he used to press on his eyes when he was a baby. This caught my attention. Eye pressing (also known as eye poking or, in clinical terms, the oculo-digital reflex) involves pressing one’s fingers, knuckles or fist against one’s eye. It’s a common topic of discussion among parents of blind babies and children, particularly those with LCA and related retinal conditions. Appearing early in infancy, eye pressing may be one of the first hints that a baby is blind, as it was in my own case.