Head Starts and Extra Time: Academic Accommodation on Post-Secondary Exams and Assignments for Cognitive and Mental Disabilities
(2016) 25 Education and Law Journal 191
18 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 23, 2016
Universities and colleges routinely grant extra time on exams and assignments to accommodate students with cognitive and mental disabilities. Such accommodation is inappropriate and inconsistent with the law. Exams and assignments are, in part, competitions. Like a head start in a race, extra time means that the competition is no longer valid. Races test speed, and no accommodation can be made for disabilities that affect speed, which is the bona fide criterion of the race. Exams and assignments assess a range of cognitive and mental skills, and no accommodation can be made for disabilities that affect those skills, which are bona fide criteria of the assessment. A head start imposes undue hardship on other runners, and extra time imposes undue hardship on other students in the class. The purpose of accommodation is to facilitate participation, not to compensate for lack of ability that is relevant to the test. Students with mental disabilities are able to sit exams without extra time, which means that they are already able to participate. The real purpose of claims for extra time is to increase their prospects for success at the expense of other students, which is not legitimate. Universities and colleges should not provide extra time as an accommodation for disabilities that relate to cognitive and mental skills.
Keywords: accommodation, disability, university, college, discrimination, mental illness, human rights, undue hardship, bona fide requirement, exam, sports
JEL Classification: I20, I23, I24, K19, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation