College Board supports only Nemeth Code
The College Board offers Braille tests ONLY in UEB and with Nemeth Code for math. Braille test materials are available in Unified English Braille (UEB) with Nemeth Code for math. Students approved for braille will receive a braille test book, Guide to the Nemeth Code, and Braille Reference Information for use with the math test.” From Accommodations and Supports Handbook, Spring 2021.
Given the lack of availability of UEB Technical from the College Board, students who are not permitted to learn Nemeth Code will be unable to take the following tests:
- PSAT/NMSQT® (the ONLY means by which a student may compete to become a National Merit Scholar)
- SAT Subject Tests™
- Advanced Placement® (AP®) Exams
- CLEP® (College Level Examination Program)
- ACCUPLACER® (widely used by post-secondary schools to “assess student readiness for introductory credit-bearing courses”)
- PSAT™ 10
- PSAT™ 8/9
College Board tests are widely-used
This will place these students at a severe disadvantage in their pursuit of post-secondary education.
PSAT (Preliminary SAT)
As noted above, the PSAT is the ONLY method of entering the competition to be named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, finalist, or winner. Achieving this distinction can result in National Merit Scholarship funds as well as scholarships from private and school sources. Additionally, “National Merit Scholar” is a valuable addition to any college application.
SAT (formerly, Scholastic Aptitude Test)
The SAT is a commonly-used college entrance exam. It is used by scholarship-granting organizations as well.
AP (Advanced Placement) examinations
AP exams are end-of-course tests through which a student may earn college credit (depending on the student’s score and the attending school’s AP credit-granting policy).
Note that pursuing AP study is favored by colleges. When deciding whether to limit a student to UEB Technical, ask: Will those colleges understand that the blind student couldn’t take the AP Calculus exam because the district never taught the student Nemeth Code—the code needed to access AP exams?
Also, AP exams cost less than one hundred dollars, but a student may earn three to eight credits by passing the test. This can save 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 Code instruction was withheld from them?
CLEP (College Level Examination Program)
CLEP exams provide students a way to get college credit similar to that of AP exams. While CLEP exams are not typically tied to high school courses like AP exams are, the remain valuable tools for securing college credit for entry-level courses. In fact, an online program, Modern States, offers free course materials for AP and CLEP examinations. Blind students should not miss out on these college credit opportunities simply because their schools decline to teach them Nemeth Code.
Accuplacer is an exam used by many community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities to place students in the proper class. The subject areas of Accuplacer are Reading, Writing (really, editing), Math, and WritePlacer Essay (composition).
Students who cannot take the Accuplacer exam will likely be placed in lower-level classes than is appropriate. As noted above, failing to prepare a student to take exams that could waive the need for entry-level college courses puts that student in the position of taking additional classes that might not have been needed had the student had the opportunity to “test out” of those classes. This, in turn, will increase the expense of college as well as the time needed to matriculate to a degree.
Consider students’ current and future needs
Please note that even students who are permitted to learn Nemeth Code (but are also forced to learn UEB Technical) are harmed. They are burdened with needlessly learning two math codes: one to please their school and one to serve them for life. The push toward UEB Technical forces braille-reading students to learn and use a math code which is region-specific and which restricts the student’s post-secondary education options. States and school districts are not placing this demand on non-disabled students; print readers are allowed to continue using two codes: one for literary and one for math.