The 2014 ruling that found that the LSAT practices for accommodations for people with disability faulty has hit yet another snag. A federal judge recently urged the panel that oversees the test to move towards ratifying and implementing the changes pushed by Federal and State Agencies. At hand is the process of verifying the disability claimed, something that runs afoul of many of the current American with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. The LSAT is standing firm in requiring proof of disability, but this is raising even more concerns in the age of HIPAA and ADA accommodations.
The issue is the burden of proof
The stumbling block is not based upon the typical accommodation requests, but on the scoring practices and evidence requirement for claiming accommodation when taking the LSAT. As it stands now, the practice of annotating scores with notes about whether or not the person required extra time or special accommodation has been struck from the LSAT test guidelines. It was not only struck, but was part of a three plus million dollar settlement. The issue now is the process applicants must go through in submitting a requirement for accommodations based upon disability. The LSAT requires proof of disability, and proof that the accommodations are required by the disability to promote fair test taking practices.
What accommodations are they talking about?
At stake are the LSAT accommodations that allow for extended time for taking tests, breaks between test sections, and the use of special software. The LSAT says that for those without a disability this would constitute an unfair advantage on the test, which is why they are defending their practice of requiring proof of disability. According to ADA guidelines, proof requirements that are allowed under the act are surpassed by the current LSAT practices amounting to discriminatory practice.
The argument is based upon the weight of the LSAT
The argument on both sides isn’t really about the accommodations, but is concerned with the weight LSAT scores are given in admission to law school and gaining employment. While the earlier case stated that the practice of annotating test scores to reveal accommodations was discriminatory, the practice of extensive evidence of disability is being challenged as discriminatory as well. It may also be a violation of patient rights. Right now, the general rule is that if a person applies for a disability accommodation for the LSAT and they do not get it, they are filing suit against the LSAT governing council.
Does the current system push frivolous suits?
That last bit has the courts concerned that the LSAT is unfairly burdening the courts with frivolous lawsuits concerning a policy reform that they should be mandating or denying as their own agency, not waiting to build a court case that will dictate the decision. This is causing many agencies to lose patience with LSAT and question what exactly are the grounds for the disability problems the test seems to be having.
What the proposed changes could mean
The changes mean that the LSAT would follow no different protocol for claimed accommodations than any other national test. As if stand now, application for accommodations require only notice of disability award or doctors confirmation. The testing agency would no longer be able to engage in further “investigative” behaviors. This will move the LSAT into compliance with the ADA, but it appears to be a course of action the council is determined to have mandated to them by the courts rather than initiating the reforms themselves.