Resources for Disabled Students

Alternative Testing Services

Policies and Procedures

Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) provides alternative testing services as an accommodation/academic adjustment for students who have a learning, visual, hearing, mobility, or other disability that significantly affects, or limits, the ability to take exams in a traditional setting and/or format. Alternative testing services 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 his/her knowledge or mastery of a course. These conditions are not intended to alter the fundamental nature or requirements of any course.

Eligibility and Approval Conditional Status Approval
Provision of Services Reasonable Accommodation
Procedures and Conditions Specific Student Responsibility
Assurances Exceptions
Eligibility and Approval

Eligibility for this service is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by the RDS Accommodations/Advocacy Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for alternative testing services. The affects, or limitations, of the disability must also support the need for alternative testing services as assessed and verified by the RDS Staff member.

Alternative testing services may be requested by a student or be recommended by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as an appropriate academic adjustment/ accommodation after an assessment of needs.

All students who request alternative testing services for the first time must meet with the RDS Specialists or other appropriate RDS staff for approval. Once approved, alternative testing services must be requested by a student each semester in order to continue this service. All student requests for alternative testing services are submitted through the Student Information form when the student meets with an RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff for approval and for continuation of services. Approval and continuation of services will be provided documented for each semester.

Conditional Status Approval

The RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff may also recommend and approve alternative testing services under conditional status for a student who presents a strong indication he/she 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, indication the student is in the middle of a diagnostic process, or other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect his/her ability to perform on exams. These indicators will be documented by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as part of the recommendation and approval for services. Conditional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of service is dependent upon provision of supporting disability documentation.

Students who are temporarily disabled 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 conditional status through their recovery but no longer than one semester of service.

Provision of Services

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

Once approved for services, students will be instructed and oriented to the process of alternative testing through RDS. Instruction and orientation may be provided by the RDS Alternative Testing Coordinator or other appropriate designee. The student is expected to discuss his/her needs with instructors to determine whether or not using RDS Alternative Testing Services will be compatible with a particular course or method of assessment. The RDS Specialist or Alternative Testing Services Coordinator is available to both the student and instructor if any concerns arise regarding compatibility.

As part of the approval process for services, a student will receive a memo each semester verifying his/her eligibility for alternative testing from the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff. The memo outlines the accommodations for which a student is eligible to receive. The student must give a copy of this memo to each instructor in whose courses an accommodation will be required for test-taking purposes prior to the time an accommodation is requested and/or needed. Faculty are not required to provide an accommodation until notified appropriately by the student and/or RDS.  The accommodations recommended by an RDS Specialist will be the only accommodations provided to the student for any exam/quiz.

Students in a “conditional” status will also receive a memo for instructors, outlining the accommodations recommended by the RDS Staff member and indicating the conditional status of the student. Because it is likely the student will be able to verify the need for the accommodation during the semester, RDS encourages faculty to provide the accommodations recommended for students in a conditional 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 Accommodation

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 his/her 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 he/she has mastered.

Reasonable testing accommodations include, but are not limited to, the following:

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

If utilizing RDS for Alternative Testing Services, generally students are given extra time for each exam/quiz (time and a half to double time). 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. Examples of alternative methods include the use of an reader and/or scribe, the use of a computer, or the use of an interpreter.

Procedures and Conditions
  • Once approved for testing accommodations, each student is to contact his/her instructors individually to discuss the most appropriate arrangement for his/her needs and present a copy of the memo issued from RDS 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 RDS.
  • At the first meeting, in addition to the verifying memo, the student is to give each instructor an Alternative Testing Faculty Information sheet. This sheet explains various testing accommodations as well as outlining both faculty and student responsibilities. While individual arrangements for accommodation can be made between a student and instructor, RDS requests that students inform the RDS Alternative Testing Coordinator or the RDS Specialist of any accommodations if they are not coordinated through RDS. Instructors are also encouraged to consult with RDS to ensure appropriate accommodations are provided.
  • If accommodations are coordinated through RDS, each exam/quiz is scheduled through the use of a 3-part form. The top form is filled out by the student with faculty input for specific information regarding the exam. Once completed, the top form (white) is submitted by the student to RDS for scheduling. One copy (yellow) is given to the instructor and serves as a reminder to the instructor about the accommodation. The remaining copy (pink) is retained by the student as a reminder of the scheduled test.
  • Instructors can delineate on the form any specific conditions under which exams may be taken. If nothing is noted, RDS assumes there are no special materials required/permitted or other circumstances concerning the exam.
  • Exams/quizzes to be taken in the RDS office may be dropped off by an instructor or an instructor may request that the RDS staff pick up the exam/quiz. Instructors can also FAX an exam/quiz directly to RDS or Email it directly to the RDS Coordinator of Alternative Testing Services. In some cases, it may also be appropriate for a student to self-deliver an exam/quiz. Campus mail is not recommended as a means of exam delivery due to timing issues.
  • RDS requires that all exams/quizzes be delivered prior to the time an exam/quiz is to be taken (unless a student is self-delivering). Instructors may deliver/FAX/Email an exam the same day. RDS requests instructors deliver/FAX/Email at least an hour ahead of the scheduled time it is to be taken. RDS requests that all exams/quizzes to be picked up are left in main department offices and available for pick up at least 24 hours in advance of the time the test is to be taken. Exams requiring alternative print formats must be received by RDS 3 working days in advance of the date the test is to be taken.
  • Once exams/quizzes are completed by students, they are returned to instructors in sealed envelops 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 taken during the morning of a particular day will be returned no later than 4:30 pm of the same day. Exams/quizzes taken after noon of a particular day will be returned no later than 10:00 am the following day.
  • 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 RDS complex until a certain time after the class begins the exam to maintain the integrity of the exam.
  • If a student is unable to take his/her exam on the scheduled day and time, the student must call RDS as well as the instructor to request an alternative test date/time. RDS 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 RDS 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 RDS facilitates any testing accommodations, the student must sign an agreement to follow RDS procedures to arrange to take exams through RDS. The RDS Coordinator of Alternative Testing Services will then accept the student for services.
  • A student must contact his/her instructor prior to scheduling an exam/quiz through RDS.
  • For each exam/quiz to be taken through RDS, the student must complete a Exam Request Form and return it to RDS seven (7) days before (not including the exam/quiz day) the exam/quiz is to be taken. Requests for finals exams are due two weeks prior to the beginning of finals week. Early submission of Exam Request Forms are highly encouraged.
  • Exam Request Forms that are submitted late will be stamped as "LATE".  Three such 'late' forms by a student may result in a temporary suspension of service.  To restore service the student will be required to meet with an RDS Specialist to determine the cause of the late submittals.
  • Each Exam Request Form must include the following: the start time and date of the exam/quiz; how the exam/quiz will arrive at the RDS office (as agreed upon by the instructor); where the exam/quiz is to be returned; and the type of accommodation requested.  Only accommodations approved by an RDS Specialist will be provided.
  • Exams/quizzes should be scheduled and completed during RDS office hours, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (Summer hours 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Exceptions are made for evening exams with a recommended start time of 5:00 pm.  Extended hours for starting Finals are 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.  A student is to arrive at the RDS office on time for his/her 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 abide by the university’s regulations as printed 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.
  • RDS will provide the accommodations recommended by the RDS Specialist within the confines of available resources.  RDS cannot guarantee a student will have the same conditions for every exam beyond the accommodations recommended, especially during finals.  If accommodations provided are not as effective as first assessed, the student must meet with an RDS Specialist for an updated recommendation.
  • All students taking exams/quizzes through RDS 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 RDS are kept confidential. Exams/quizzes to be taken are kept in a locked file cabinet over night and are under the purview of the Coordinator of Alternative Testing Services during the day. All completed exams/quizzes are returned in sealed envelopes.

Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the RDS Director. Exceptions may be requested from the RDS Director by the student, RDS Specialist, and/or RDS Alternative Testing Services Coordinator.

(Revised 2/14)


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