Accommodations for test taking change again

The Etownian October 13, 2016 0

Elizabethtown College’s Learning Services and Disability Services have returned to its old policies regarding procedures for students who need certain accommodations for taking tests. This switch comes after different policies adopted at the beginning of the year received negative feedback from faculty.

According to Learning and Disability Services Director Lynne Davies, the policies and procedures for taking a test through Learning Services are now exactly the same as they were last year. With these policies, students who need special accommodations for taking tests can get these accommodations through Learning and Disability Services. Then they can either make arrangements with their professors to take the test in a room in an academic building or a room in Learning Services.

“It’s reasonable to have a different location for a student who needs that as a testing accommodation,” Davies said. “What I don’t think is reasonable is for all of the students who qualify for testing accommodations to fall on just two people as opposed to being dispersed among the 200-plus faculty. Still, it’s exactly how it was a year ago, and my guess is faculty will be content with that. It also shouldn’t change anything for students, which is our priority.”

There was a 52 percent increase in the number of students taking tests through Learning Services and Disability Services between the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 school years. Students took about 690 tests through Learning Services during the 2015-2016 school year.

Many students made arrangements with their professors to take the tests in empty classrooms or lounges instead of in Learning Services.

Davies and Assistant Director of Learning Services and Disability Services Tamera Longsderff noticed this and changed the testing policies accordingly at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year. Students now had the option to either work out a location and time with their professors or take their exam in Learning Services in the evening with a proctor.

While students did not have problems with these new policies, there was a lot of pushback from faculty. Davies said the most common complaint was that students were taking tests on different days than the rest of their classmates. However, it was already common for students who needed extra time on tests to take them on different days.

Another concern involved students asking questions during tests.

“If a student in class asks for clarification and the professor answers the question, students taking the test in Learning Services don’t get that clarification even if they had the same question,” Davies said. “It’s sort of separate but unequal.”

Junior Andrew Smith has taken almost all of his tests and quizzes through Learning Services since his first year.

Smith, who uses a screen reader, said that the assistance he has received from Learning and Disability Services has helped him learn which accommodations aid him the most.

“It helps me to better focus on taking the test and to not have so much stress of seeing everybody handing in their tests and leaving,” Smith said. “It just gives me a way I can relax and take the test at my own pace in a quiet environment.”

Jon Fuiman, who graduated from Etown in 2016, agreed with Smith about the benefits of taking tests through Learning and Disability Services. While at Etown, Fuiman also visited writing and time management tutors.

Smith and Fuiman both said that Learning Services could improve by advertising to a wider circle of students. According to Smith, while most students know that Learning Services and Disability Services are available, the only students who know the specific services are the ones who use them on a regular basis. In terms of the actual services offered, however, Smith said he thinks Learning and Disability Services are doing plenty for students who need testing accommodations.

“Tammie and Lynne are great people,” Smith said. “They’ll do whatever they can to help you. I think all the Learning Services people are very flexible and understanding with their schedules.”

“As an alum who did well with Learning Services, I can say that it is a campus asset that I used and that everyone can and should use for their own benefit,” Fuiman said. Learning Services and Disability Services are located on the second floor of the BSC.

 

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