Accessible Exam Support—Examination Room
Discover the dedicated examination room at the Banacos Academic Center, situated on the second floor of Scanlon, designed to offer reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Whether you require a distraction-reduced environment, extended testing time, readers, scribes, or assistive technology for in-class assessments like quizzes and exams. To uphold this environment, please refer to the following guidelines tailored for both students and faculty.
Information for Students
Use of the exam room and its proctor service is limited to students with disabilities (permanent or temporary) who are registered with the Banacos Programs (Disability Services or Learning Disabilities Programs). If you believe you have a disability for which you will need exam accommodations, please request those accommodations through your program advisor or access advisor.
Requesting exam accommodation and reserving exam times
Make sure that you have consulted with your program or access advisor each semester to confirm that your requested exam-related accommodations have been approved for your courses.
- Students must submit a reservation for each exam they wish to take in the exam room.
- Reservations for exam times are made by either
- filling out the purple exam time reservation form in the exam room office, Scanlon room 237, in the Banacos Academic Center; or,
- filling out the online form available here.
- Students should reserve exam times as soon as possible but no later than 2 days before the exam is scheduled. If you have not made a timely reservation, please consult with exam room staff to see if you can be accommodated.
- Consult with professors to confirm the testing arrangements written on the exam time reservation form.
- If you require an exam in an alternate format, a reader or scribe, please discuss your reservation with your Banacos advisor or the exam room staff a week prior to the exam or as soon as possible and before reserving an exam time.
Exam Room Policy
- Students must arrive at the Exam Room at least 10 minutes before an exam is scheduled to begin, unless otherwise arranged with exam room staff.
- Students must put away all personal items and silence all electronic devices.
- Students may not leave the exam room without checking in with the proctor.
- All exams will be timed. Students generally receive either 50% or 100% extended time, or receive breaks during their exams with time stopped. This will be determined in consultation with your program or access advisor upon review of your supporting documentation.
- If a student exceeds the allotted time, the exam staff will note where the student is on the exam by sending to the professor a photocopy of the work completed up to that point. The student will then be allowed to finish the exam.
- If a student exceeds the allotted extended time, the professor will be informed of the circumstantial details. How the exam is graded is up to the professor’s discretion.
Academic Honesty Policy
Banacos staff will not assist students with exam material EXCEPT to reproduce the exam material into another format. Staff may only read, repeat, copy, write, type or put into an electronic format information an exam or a student’s answers to an exam. To maintain academic integrity in accordance with Westfield State University’s Academic Honesty Policy, staff may not explain, define or interpret words and sentences.
- If a student has a question about exam material during an exam, the student must request permission from the proctor to consult with the professor by email, phone or brought to the professor for clarification. Time will be stopped for the student during this process.
- Students must follow Westfield State University’s Academic Honesty Policy concerning the administration of exams at the Banacos Center. Violations will be reported in accordance with the Academic Honesty Policy.
Information for Faculty
Use of the exam room is limited to students with disabilities (permanent or temporary) who are registered with the Banacos Programs (Disability Services or Learning Disabilities Programs). If you are unsure whether a student is currently entitled to use the exam room, please contact the exam room staff. Often, a student may need to register with Disability Services or make sure their request is in for that semester. Please write to Disability Services if the student needs to do so. Please be sure to keep all communications regarding taking exams out of the classroom private, even if the student starts a conversation in the hallway or classroom with others around, ask the student to make an appointment or if it is okay with them to have the conversation in the public space.
Transmittance of Exams
- Arrangements for all quizzes and examinations should be confirmed with the exam room staff at least 24 hours in advance.
- Faculty should deliver exams to the Banacos Academic Center exam room by email, fax (413-572-8774) in person or through campus mail. If you are unable to deliver your exam, please consult with exam room staff at 413-572-8378 to make other arrangements.
- Exams should be at the exam room at least several hours before the exam, and preferably the day before the exam. By receiving exams before the exam is to be administered, log jams at the Center can be avoided so that students are able to begin their exam at the scheduled time. In rare cases, such as if an exam must be converted to an alternate format, an exam must be delivered sooner.
- We ask that exams not be sent directly to Banacos advisors or the director because we may be absent or occupied and therefore not available to forward it to the exam room staff in a timely fashion.
- The exam room has scantron sheets and blue books. If you would like to use your own, please deliver them with the exam to the exam room.
- Exam room staff will return the exam to the professor’s office, mailbox or departmental office in accordance with the request of the professor.
Ensure the exam room staff has the following information regarding how the delivery, proctoring and return of exams will occur for your courses. They will need to know the following information concerning each exam:
- How the exam will be transmitted to the Center;
- How the exam should be returned;
- Whether notes or textbooks are allowed and any restrictions on their use;
- Any policy on the use of calculators (taking into consideration a student's approved accommodations);
- Whether and how a student may contact you during an exam for clarification or questions.
In addition, you may want to inform the staff:
- Whether the exam must be taken at the same time as it is administered in the classroom for the rest of the class;
- Whether there is flexibility as to when (date and time) it can be administered; and,
- Whether there is a date and time by which it should be completed.
Exam Room Policy
- All exams will be timed. Students generally receive either 50% or 100% extended time, or receive breaks during their exams with time stopped. This will be determined in consultation with their program or access advisor upon review of supporting documentation.
- If a student exceeds the allotted time, the professor will receive a letter with the exam detailing the circumstances. Typically, the exam staff will note where the student is on the exam by either drawing a line where the student was, or by sending a photocopy of the work completed up to that point. The student will then be allowed to finish the exam.
- It is up to the discretion of the professor how to proceed in scoring the exam. However, the director asks that before penalizing a student for exceeding the time, that professors contact the program advisor of the student to discuss the particular circumstances of the student. For many students, this may be the first time that they are timed on an exam and they would benefit from learning how to better prepare and manage their time taking exams. This may take a semester or two for some students depending on the complexities of a student’s disabilities.
- Banacos Academic Center staff will not assist students with exam material EXCEPT to reproduce the exam material into another format. Staff may only read, repeat, copy, write, type or put into an electronic format information from an exam or a student’s answers to an exam. To maintain academic integrity in accordance with Westfield State University’s Academic Honesty Policy, staff may not explain, define or interpret words and sentences.
- If a student has a question about exam material during an exam, the student will be allowed to consult with the professor by phone or brought to the professor for clarification. Time will be stopped for the student during this process.
Faculty: Online Exams
Extended time allotment
The time allotment for online exams in Socrates and Plato must be extended by the professor who administers the exam. This may be done through the help of Joe Axenroth (x5664) or Lisa Clark (x8130) at CIT. They will be happy to take you through the steps to extend the time for individual exams.
Online assessments must be accessible
Students must be able to have their extended time and use assistive technology accommodations. If your exam is not on Blackboard, but on another online format, it is best to review whether the page is accessible and to have a backup plan if it is not.
Proctoring of online exams
Online exams may be taken in the exam room; however, exam room staff will not proctor online exams unless the rest of the class is also required to be proctored. Proctoring a student for this type of exam would be considered different treatment based on a disability and essentially implies that students with disabilities are more likely to cheat.
Cheating on online exams
Some faculty have expressed concern that students will have more opportunities to cheat if they are alone taking an online exam with more time. This is unlikely. For example, students with a processing or reading disorder will be using that extended time to process the information or read the content of the exam. Going back to notes or the book to cheat would not be effective. Normally, when a student is done with the test, the student reviews it and stops.
Some change the format of online tests
Many faculty of online courses have simply increased the complexity of online assessments and made them open book. An open book on a challenging assessment discourages cheating and may allow for a more accurate assessment where students can demonstrate their ability to apply principles or do the problems with new information.
Backtracking - viewing the entire exam
The staff from CIT and Banacos has a request that we hope will bolster the University’s mission to encourage critical thinking and allow all students to reach their full potential. We request that, if you give an online exam, you refrain from blocking students’ ability to look back at the test and review their responses to previous questions. In PLATO terms, that means you would not “prohibit backtracking.”
Why? Well, some students with disabilities will need to be able to backtrack during online exams as a reasonable accommodation. From the perspective of many students who have learning disabilities, post-concussive disorder, and some anxiety disorders (to name a few), this could mean the difference between a failing and a passing grade. For some students, it is not a matter of studying well or practicing taking a test, but a matter of one or more of the following:
- The rate at which they process information
- The rate at which they recall information
- Their tendency to skip or fill in words as they read
- Difficulty in recognizing connections
- Methods used to concentrate and focus
- Increased anxiety leading to drawing a blank
If you have a concern that allowing backtracking will strike at the integrity of your curriculum, please engage in a discussion with a Banacos advisor to review the situation. Remember, that if you want to deny an accommodation, you must discuss it with a Banacos advisor before doing so. For additional information, please refer to pages 8 and 9 of Guide to Creating Access: Accommodating and Teaching Students with Disabilities.
For all students, we highly recommend that you allow backtracking. Why? Well, because of how most have been taught, from an early age, to take exams, problem-solve and learn. This usually includes four very important strategies:
- Reading the entire test before starting
- Marking up the test for various reasons
- Answering questions that are readily known
- Returning to, correcting, or reviewing responses and test questions.
Additionally, students taking paper exams in the brick-and-mortar classroom have the opportunity to flip back and forth among questions.
If you are concerned with academic dishonesty and have prohibited backtracking to limit such opportunities, CIT can provide you with much more effective tools, such as Respondus Lock Down Browser Monitor, for preventing cheating.
CIT staff would be happy to help you figure out how to enable backtracking either as an accommodation for an individual’s exam or for the entire class.
Pop Quizzes and Short Quizzes in the Classroom
Accommodating quizzes can be a challenging situation because the requirement to provide extended time, assistive technology or other reasonable accommodation applies to all “in-class assignments, quizzes and examinations.” This includes pop quizzes, short quizzes, in-class writing assignments, listening quizzes and any other in-class assessment. If a student will be graded or otherwise assessed on work done in class, then appropriate reasonable accommodations must be provided. Pop quizzes are inappropriate for some including those who have a processing deficit and may need more time than one or two days to process and articulate information learned.
We have worked successfully with faculty to find ways to retain the integrity of the assessment process and ensure the student receives reasonable accommodations. Commonly, faculty have arranged with the exam room staff for the student to begin the quiz or pop quiz before the class begins and have time to finish it and bring it to class at the prescribed end-time for the rest of the class.
Below are some suggestions, considerations and cautions regarding accommodating the in-class assessment. These have been gathered from our staff and disability services providers at other post-secondary institutions.
Suggestions for ensuring quiz administered during class time is accommodated
- Set a regular date for quizzes so student and instructor can plan for accommodation needs, including testing at Banacos due to need for assistive technology, document conversion, use of scribe or audio format of quiz, etc.
- Give at the end of class and have student take the quiz at the Banacos Center or in a different room if an appropriate environment.
- Give at the beginning of class and have student come early to Banacos Center to take the quiz or take the quiz in a different room if it is an appropriate environment.
Generally for those who cannot incorporate information quickly:
- Base the course grade for the student or the class on an average of other tests/assignments and do not count pop quizzes.
- Offer a substitute assignment to the student.
- Schedule a time with the student to have a discussion about the content of the quiz or reading (depending on the purpose of the quiz).
Please keep in mind to have discussions of fairness and equity that include other faculty and Banacos advisors. If doing any of the above would risk lowering expectations, then they would be inappropriate as reasonable accommodations.
Considering the purpose of the quiz
First, many faculty have found it helpful to review the purpose of the assessment to determine either how best to accommodate students or whether to change the format of the assessment. Faculty may want to provide the students with time to practice and perform course material or they may want to assess the following:
- How well the students have read and understood the reading.
- Whether students are internalizing the readings.
- Whether students are able to apply principals to practical application situations.
Second, it can be helpful to think about a) whether it is more important to assess how well students know, articulate and apply the information to be assessed or that students provide this information in a short response time.
Suggestions for alternate ways to assess
Informing students in the beginning of class and in the syllabus that there will be pop quizzes or assignments throughout the semester will allow students to adjust how they learn information so they can be better prepared.
- Hand out or email "pop quiz" questions at the end of class for the next assigned reading to be turned in prior to the next class.
- Send "pop quiz" questions by email prior to class and ask the students to have the questions complete by the beginning of class.
- Use Plato on Blackboard* for quizzes; assign quizzes to be taken at specific times and for a specific length of time.
- Time for students with disabilities who have extended time on exams as an accommodation must be adjusted within Blackboard – contact CIT staff Joe Axenroth at x5664 or Lisa Clark at x8130 if you need assistance adjusting the time.
- Create more involved or complex quizzes and have them be take-home, for everyone.
- Distribute "pop quiz" questions during class and have small group discussion and report back to the class.
- Put pop quiz-type questions on the syllabus reading list; have them due on specified dates (this also serves as a reminder to professors to review certain theories or principles)
- In the syllabus, offer each student an option of taking traditional pop quizzes or producing some sort of writing to hand in.
- One day, do a class quiz on Powerpoint presentation, discussing the answers with the whole class.
- Do a quick take-home another time.
*Blackboard Learn has been recognized by the National Federation of the Blind as an accessible online course management system. If you are using another platform or website, please make sure that it is accessible. Look for a link to "accessibility" on your website. If it is not accessible, you can create a backup plan for making sure students are able to access the content of your course. Banacos staff will be happy to help you develop a plan. CIT will be happy to transfer your course to Blackboard for future semesters.
Cautions when making accommodations
An appropriate environment for taking tests. If students have a reasonable accommodation of a reduced distraction environment, they must take the exam in an appropriate environment. This could be at the Banacos Academic Center or another room in the building. It should not be in a hallway or a departmental office as there is a great likelihood for interference or other distractions. If it is in someone’s private office, the phone ringer and other distracting features should be turned off. Some students might be distracted by items on desks and walls or by bookshelves.
Students should not miss any class time because they are receiving an accommodation. Their use of an accommodation should be arranged so that they can attend the rest of class after the quiz. Also, they should not be required to leave early from or be late to another class. If conflicts of time exist, arrangements can be made to have the assessment administered at a different time.
The information tested should be the same for the student receiving an accommodation as it is for the rest of the students.
Timing of quiz
Refrain from giving quizzes in the middle of class time, especially if the quiz is on material just presented in class. This creates scheduling conflicts.