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California State University, Long Beach
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Faculty Handbook: Frequently Asked Questions


How does DSS justify extra time on tests for learning disabled students?

It seems unfair to the other students, who would probably improve their scores as well, if they were allowed additional time. Various factors account for the need for extra time on tests for learning disabled students. These include:

  1. speed of processing
  2. difficulty with the mechanics of spelling, punctuation, and syntax
  3. visual perceptual deficits
  4. reading comprehension deficits

Research (UC Berkeley, and the University of Toronto, 1993) on the effects of extended time on exams has shown dramatic improvements for students with learning disabilities, but only marginal improvement for students without learning disabilities. Rather than providing learning disabled students with an unfair advantage over other students, extended time for exams allows these students to demonstrate their mastery of course objectives rather than reflect their learning disabilities.

What kinds of test accommodations do students with low vision use?

Students with low-vision, although they are able to read the test questions, experience a great deal of fatigue while concentrating on the printed word (even when enlarged) and may want to use a reader as a back-up support.

As a professor, can I be assured that students who take my test at the DSS office are being monitored closely enough to prevent cheating?

Students who use test accommodations through DSS are monitored regularly by DSS staff. If the professor wishes to have a proctor in the room with the student at all times, we will be happy to make that arrangement.

Does a student who identifies him or herself to the university as having a physical or learning disability automatically receive support services from DSS or the Stephen Benson Program (SBP)?

Prior to receiving any assistance from DSS, a student must present documentation from a qualified professional source. The CSU Office of the Chancellor provides the policy for verification of a disability as follows: "... a professionally verified disability means a condition certified by a licensed physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, rehabilitation counselor, learning disability specialist, or other appropriate professional."

How do I refer a student to DSS?

Faculty members are encouraged to refer students, whom they suspect may have a learning disability, to the SBP office or students with a physical or other functional disability to the DSS office. See Quick Reference to DSS Personnel Services or call extension 55401.

How do I verify the eligibility of a student who simply tells me that he or she is disabled and requires accommodations?

All students eligible to receive services from DSS have presented necessary documentation to our office, or have been assessed and verified by our staff. Each student should also present a DSS Student Teacher Testing Agreement Form to each professor (see appendices). We will be happy to verify their eligibility if you call our office.

Will most disabled students (who are already aware of their disability) identify themselves to their professor at the beginning of the semester?

Students who use DSS support services are directed to meet with individual professors during office hours at the beginning of the semester in order to discuss how their disability may impact on the specific course. Some students choose not to identify themselves, thereby choosing not to utilize recommended class/test modifications, for various reasons. Other students may be involved in a learning disability assessment for much of the semester, and may find they are eligible for support services in the middle, or even at the end of the semester. It is important to realize that any student requesting classroom accommodations must make reasonable accommodation requests for appropriate accommodations. DSS will work with you to help establish what is "reasonable."

How are accommodations determined for each learning disabled student?

Modifications are determined on an individual basis, after considering the specific learning disability, the course requirements, and past academic experiences. Modifications are not to give the learning disabled student a competitive edge, but to eliminate any disadvantage.

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