The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 31st

Accessibility office overwhelmed by number of alternate exam requests

Tiffany Bailey, director of ARS, said faculty are being asked to help because of the increasing number of students requesting alternate final exams.

“Our numbers are reaching into the areas of 265 individualized tests with accommodations, which is challenging to proctor that many students in one day, and then 1,200 in the course of the six-day exam period,” Bailey said.

The last day for any student to register for alternate exam accommodations was April 22.

Bailey said faculty members are only being asked to accommodate students who need a low-distraction setting and less than 50 percent additional time.

The remaining students will be provided alternate exam environments in the ARS office.

Cynthia Hopkins, testing coordinator at the ARS office, said there are only three permanent staff members and one part-time staff member in the ARS office.

Hopkins said the office can provide students with various technologies and a lower distraction environment to assist with final exams.

“A lot of students tell us they prefer to come here to take their exams versus in the classroom where they have a lot of distractions,” Hopkins said.

According to the website, ARS has seen a 34 percent increase in students requesting alternate exam accommodations since the spring 2015 semester.

Jennifer Smith, a linguistics professor, said in an email that in the past, faculty have sent copies of exams to the ARS office but are now being asked to accommodate students during the regular exam period.

Smith said providing extra time during a three-hour exam period will not be a challenge, but providing a low distraction setting will be difficult.

“I am quite worried about this option, actually. I really want them to take the exam at the same time as the rest of the class, since otherwise I would have to write a completely different exam for security reasons,” Smith said.

Smith said a testing center is available for professors to set up students, but they may be taking the exam at a different time than the regularly scheduled final.

“I don’t think the new system adequately addresses concerns about exam security, if instructors are expected to proctor the low-distraction exams at a different time from the exam given to the class as a whole, and I don’t feel that ARS has taken this into consideration,” Smith said.

The ARS website states by providing alternate exams within the department, faculty will be present for students to ask questions during the exam.

“Our role with accommodations is to level the playing field,” Bailey said.


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