February 1, 2018

Alternative Testing Policies and Procedures

The Student Disability Center (SDC) provides alternative testing accommodations to students with disabilities that significantly affect or limit their ability to take exams in a traditional setting and/or format. Alternative testing accommodations are a means of providing conditions that minimize the effects of a particular disability in order to ensure the student is able to adequately demonstrate their knowledge or mastery of a course. These conditions are not intended to alter the fundamental nature or requirements of any course.

Eligibility and Approval

Eligibility for these accommodations is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by an SDC accommodations specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for alternative testing accommodations. The effects or limitations of the disability must also support the need for alternative testing accommodations as assessed and verified by the SDC staff member.

Alternative testing accommodations may be requested by a student or be recommended by the SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member as an appropriate academic accommodation after an assessment of needs.

All students who wish to use alternative testing accommodations for the first time must meet with an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member for approval. Once approved, alternative testing accommodations must be requested by a student each semester in order to continue this service. All student requests for alternative testing accommodations are submitted via a student request form when the student meets with an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member for approval and for the continuation of services. Approval and continuation of services will be provided documented for each semester.

Provisional Status Approval

An SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member may also recommend and approve alternative testing accommodations under provisional status for a student who presents a strong indication that they may need this academic adjustment/accommodation but does not have supporting disability documentation. Strong indication includes, but is not limited to:

  • Prior history of support services in school
  • An indication the student is in the middle of a diagnostic process
  • Other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect their ability to perform on exams.

These indicators will be documented by an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member as part of the recommendation and approval for accommodations. Provisional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of these accommodations is dependent upon the provision of supporting disability documentation.

Students who have a temporary disability due to injuries affecting their ability to write may also be eligible for alternative testing services. Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries or other acute conditions may be granted provisional status through their recovery.

Provision of Accommodations

The provision of alternative testing as an accommodation involves effort on the part of the student, the faculty member, and SDC staff. While some simple accommodations may be provided directly by the faculty, others may require more extensive use of the SDC alternative testing accommodations for implementation.

Once approved for accommodations students will be instructed and oriented to the process of alternative testing through the SDC. Instruction and orientation may be provided by the SDC coordinator of alternative testing accommodations or other appropriate staff. The student is expected to discuss their needs with instructors to determine whether or not using SDC alternative testing accommodations will be compatible with a particular course or method of assessment. The SDC specialist or coordinator of alternative testing accommodations is available to both the student and faculty if any concerns arise regarding compatibility.

As part of the approval process for services, a student will receive a letter of accommodation each semester verifying their eligibility for alternative testing accommodations from an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member. The letter outlines the accommodations for which a student is eligible to receive. The student must give a copy of this letter to each of their instructors, for whose courses they wish to use alternative testing accommodations, prior to using the accommodations. Faculty are not required to provide accommodations until notified appropriately by the student and/or SDC staff. The accommodations recommended by an SDC specialist will be the only accommodations provided to the student for any exam/quiz.

Students under provisional status will also receive a letter of accommodation for their instructors, outlining the accommodations recommended by the SDC staff member. Because it is likely the student will be able to verify the need for the accommodation during the semester, the SDC encourages faculty to provide the accommodations recommended for students under provisional status, especially in support of the university’s goals for retention. The retention of students with temporary injuries or other acute conditions can also be enhanced through this type of conditional accommodation.

Reasonable Accommodations

While faculty are responsible for providing academic accommodations to students with disabilities based on individual needs, they are not responsible for accommodations until a student makes their needs known to an instructor. Because the measurement of performance may be highly affected by a student’s disability, a reasonable accommodation is provided to minimize the effects, or limitations, of the disability. The goal is to provide the student with an equal or equitable opportunity to be measured on what they have mastered.

Reasonable testing accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Extended time (time and a half to double time)
  • Reader and/or scribe
  • Computer/assistive technology
  • A less distracting environment
  • Oral processing
  • Substitute formats of exams (e.g., essay vs multiple choice)
  • Adjustable table height
  • Accessible  text (print conversions)
  • Ability to move from sitting position as needed

If utilizing alternative testing accommodations, generally students are given extra time for each exam/quiz. The extra time is a common accommodation for specific types of disabilities and also allows for the time needed to complete an exam/quiz in an alternative method.

Procedures and Conditions

  • Once approved for testing accommodations, each student needs to contact their instructors individually to discuss the most appropriate arrangement for their needs and present a copy of their letter of accommodation issued from the SDC verifying the student’s eligibility for accommodations. Students are encouraged to contact their instructors during the first two weeks of the semester or as soon as approval for this accommodation has been made. Contact with an instructor must be made prior to receiving an alternative testing accommodation through the SDC.
  • While individual arrangements for accommodation can be made between a student and instructor, the SDC requests that students inform the SDC coordinator of alternative testing accommodations or an SDC specialist of any accommodations if they are not coordinated through SDC. Instructors are also encouraged to consult with the SDC to ensure appropriate accommodations are provided.
  • If accommodations are coordinated through the SDC, each exam/quiz is scheduled through an online system. The system works by the student submitting a request at least seven days prior to the exam. Once the student submits their request, the online system will send an email to the instructor notifying them that a student has requested to take their exam with the SDC. The email will ask the faculty to log into the system and approve the date, time, and conditions for the exam.
  • Instructors can delineate in the system any specific conditions under which exams may be taken. If nothing is noted, the SDC assumes there are no special materials required/permitted or other circumstances concerning the exam.
  • Exams/quizzes that are going to be taken in the SDC need to be either dropped off by an instructor or uploaded directly into the online system.
  • The SDC requires that all exams/quizzes be delivered prior to the time that the exam/quiz is to be taken. The SDC requests instructors deliver/upload their exam(s) 24 hours ahead of the exam with a minimum of 4 hours before the scheduled exam time. Exams requiring alternative print formats must be received by the SDC three working days in advance of the date the exam/quiz is to be taken.
  • Once exams/quizzes are completed by students, they are returned to instructors in sealed envelopes indicating the name of the instructor and department to which the exam/quiz belongs. The exam/quiz will be returned to the main department office and a person there will be asked to sign a receipt indicating the exam/quiz has been returned. All exams/quizzes will be returned as soon as possible after completion by the student.
  • Exams/quizzes will be returned within 24 hours of the exam/quiz being completed.
  • Generally, students will take their exams at the same time as the class unless there are student schedule/accommodation conflicts. Students should not be expected to miss other classes in order to take exams/quizzes with accommodations. Therefore, an exam/quiz may be scheduled for an alternative time other than the class time period. Alternate testing time/dates outside the scheduled class period are provided only upon the instructor’s approval for the change.
  • For evening exams, students may be asked to start prior to the start of the class to allow them sufficient time to complete the exam.  An instructor may request a student remain in the SDC until a certain time after the class begins the exam to maintain the integrity of the exam.
  • If a student is unable to take their exam on the scheduled day and time, the student must notify the SDC as well as the instructor to request an alternative test date/time. The SDC will hold the exam for 2 working days, pending reschedule approval from the instructor.
  • Instructors will be notified if a student arrives more than 20 minutes after the scheduled time for an exam/quiz and the SDC requires written or verbal permission from the instructor to administer a late exam. The student will be given the amount of time agreed upon for an accommodation from the time the exam was to be started and not from the time the student arrives.

Specific Student Responsibilities

  • If the SDC facilitates any testing accommodations, the student must sign an agreement to follow the SDC procedures to arrange to take exams through the SDC. The SDC coordinator of alternative testing Accommodations will then accept the student for services.
  • A student must make their need for accommodations known to their instructors via their letter of accommodations issued to them by an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member.
  • For each exam/quiz to be taken through the SDC, the student must complete an exam request through the SDC online system at least seven days prior to the exam/quiz being taken. Requests for finals exams must be submitted at least four weeks prior to the beginning of finals week. Early submission of exam requests are highly encouraged.
  • Exam requests that are submitted late will be marked as ‘late’.  After three ‘late’ submissions by a student, the student will need to meet with the SDC director to discuss the reasons behind late requests.
  • Each exam request must include the following:
    • The start time and date of the exam/quiz
    • The course the exam is being taken for
    • The type of accommodation requested (only accommodations approved by an SDC Specialist will be provided.)
  • Exams/quizzes should be scheduled and completed during SDC office hours, Monday through Friday, 7:45 am to 4:45 pm (Summer hours 7:30 am to 4:30 pm). Exceptions are made for evening exams with a recommended start time of 5:00 pm. Extended hours for starting Finals are 7:30 am to 8:00 pm.
  • A student is to arrive at the SDC on time for their exam. Late arrivals will be subject to the consequences of reduced time to complete an exam/quiz. All exams/quizzes must be completed by closing time (adjusted for evening exams and finals).
  • Students are expected to bring all materials that are required for an exam/quiz that are not already provided by the instructor (i.e. pencils/pens, calculators, blue books, etc.).
  • Students are expected to abide by the university’s regulations as defined in the CSU Academic Program Guide catalog regarding academic integrity (i.e., cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized possessions of academic materials, etc.). Any infraction of these regulations will be reported to the appropriate instructor for the exam/quiz.

Assurances

The SDC will provide the accommodations recommended by an SDC specialist within the confines of available resources. The SDC cannot guarantee a student will have the same conditions for every exam beyond the accommodations recommended. If accommodations provided are not as effective as first assessed, the student can meet with an SDC specialist for an updated recommendation.

  • All students taking exams/quizzes through the SDC are monitored. Any incident that appears in violation of the university regulations regarding academic integrity (cheating) will be reported to an instructor in writing when the exam/quiz is returned, detailing the conditions of the behavior of which the student is suspected. It is the instructor’s prerogative to determine the appropriate consequences for the student and his/her actions.
  • All exams/quizzes handled by the SDC are kept confidential. Exams/quizzes to be taken are kept in a locked file cabinet overnight and are under the purview of the coordinator of alternative testing accommodations during the day. All completed exams/quizzes are returned in sealed envelopes.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the SDC director. Exceptions may be requested from the SDC director by the student, SDC specialist, and/or SDC coordinator of alternative testing accommodations.