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Has accommodation gone too far at universities?

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Did you know that if you get a doctor's note saying you have some kind of mental impairment you will be given 50% more time to write an exam at many Canadian universities? The note doesn't have to say what the impairment is, and it could be a temporary condition often based on self-reported symptoms to ones doctor. Conditions include depression and anxiety as well as learning disabilities. Yet the test is one designed to see how well you compare to other students in answering questions and putting together arguments on the given subject. If you're given 50% more time it's quite possible you could get an undeserved A, taking it away from other students (since these are often marked on a curve).

Is it right that a student who can't handle stress, or has cognitive issues, making them incapable of performing work as well or fast as others can finish university with marks superior to students whose performances are superior to his? 

Claiming the right to extra time and then insisting that what you produce is an A paper is like claiming that you should win the gold medal for the 100 metres by running only 80 metres. That logic cheats those who have accomplished more demanding tasks. There is only one gold medal and only a limited number of A grades. Pressure is part of the conditions of the test. Students who can exhibit proficiency only when sources of stress are eliminated are like athletes who can perform at their best only in practice rather than in the big game. Accommodating those students makes no more sense than accommodating the athletes.

http://nationalpost.com/opinion/bruce-pardy-mental-disabilities-shouldnt-be-accommodated-with-extra-time-on-exams/wcm/dd64d54b-1569-42e0-816e-0186dca980dc

Edited by Argus

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What a stupid opinion piece. Students asking for extra time to complete an exam is not the same as the Olympics. They are asking for a fair chance to succeed in life. Everyone deserves a fair chance for that pursuit in life. Are you suggesting only high achievers get a stab at a financially secure and successful life. 

In the end, what does an extra hour or so hurt.  These are all young people hoping to carve out a life and if it takes someone longer to complete a task it doesn't really matter in the real world as long as it's completed successfully  

This is a poor opinion piece that deserves to be chucked in the trash bin. 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, WestCoastRunner said:

What a stupid opinion piece. Students asking for extra time to complete an exam is not the same as the Olympics. They are asking for a fair chance to succeed in life. Everyone deserves a fair chance for that pursuit in life. Are you suggesting only high achievers get a stab at a financially secure and successful life. 

What I'm suggesting is that people who are better at something should be rewarded for being better at it. I don't think it makes sense to say "Look, I'm not as smart as those people so it's not fair for me to have to reach the same standards". Life is not fair. Some are smarter, taller, more beautiful, more talented than others. Would you suggest an orchestra hire musicians based on anything but which is the best? Should one be hired who is less capable because he or she suffers stress and anxiety while performing in public? The whole point of the exam is to see who is the best. Making accommodation based on someone having mental impairment of some sort defeats that point.

Nor does it just affect them. Employers will hire in part due to marks. Why is it fair that a person less capable than another leave university with higher marks because they have been 'accommodated' due to some real or perceived emotional or mental impairment?

 

Edited by Argus

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1 minute ago, Argus said:

What I'm suggesting is that people who are better at something should be rewarded for being better at it. I don't think it makes sense to say "Look, I'm not as smart as those people so it's not fair for me to have to reach the same standards". Life is not fair. Some are smarter, taller, more beautiful, more talented than others. Would you suggest an orchestra hire musicians based on anything but which is the best? Should one be hired who is less capable because he or she suffers stress and anxiety while performing in public? The whole point of the exam is to see who is the best. Making accommodation based on someone having mental impairment of some sort defeats that point.

 

 

Someone taking longer to complete a task is not stupider than someone else. 

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Just now, WestCoastRunner said:

Someone taking longer to complete a task is not stupider than someone else. 

Perhaps not but they are less capable. In many tests, the time is limited specifically to see how fast you can put together an argument or as an indication of how well you have mastered the material. Getting 50% more time is unfair to the other students in that after graduation its' quite possible a less capable person will emerge with higher marks due to their being accommodated, and be hired ahead of more qualified graduates by employers who are unaware that they were given special treatment.

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22 minutes ago, Argus said:

Perhaps not but they are less capable. In many tests, the time is limited specifically to see how fast you can put together an argument or as an indication of how well you have mastered the material. Getting 50% more time is unfair to the other students in that after graduation its' quite possible a less capable person will emerge with higher marks due to their being accommodated, and be hired ahead of more qualified graduates by employers who are unaware that they were given special treatment.

How could they be less qualified if they got lower marks?

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5 hours ago, Argus said:

Perhaps not but they are less capable. In many tests, the time is limited specifically to see how fast you can put together an argument or as an indication of how well you have mastered the material. Getting 50% more time is unfair to the other students in that after graduation its' quite possible a less capable person will emerge with higher marks due to their being accommodated, and be hired ahead of more qualified graduates by employers who are unaware that they were given special treatment.

They're trying to accommodate people with disabilities so they can achieve their potential and live a decent life.  It's not like they're marking them differently.  It's not "unfair" to the non-disabled, this isn't about a track & field race, this is about getting through the necessities of life like getting an education & getting a job.  People with disabilities often live in poverty and off disability cheques from the government because they can't hold a job or make a living while competing against normally healthy people. Every single employer, at least in Ontario, has a legal duty to accommodate an employee with a disability to the point of undue hardship (ie: employers don't have to make a special job position for the disabled, or do something that will be unreasonably financially damaging to the company).  That could mean reduced hours per week, slightly lowered quotas, a special kind of computer or software etc.  This enables people with disabilities a chance to earn a living and have the human dignity that comes with that instead of living off the government's tit.

So you have 3 choices Argus.  For people with disabilities we should:

1. Reasonably accommodate them in school/workplace so they can earn a living & be of productive value to society.

2. say "every man for themselves" and have 100% same playing field competition for everyone & force the disabled to live in poverty & do nothing all day while living off meager welfare cheques & sucking taxpayers dry.

3.  Do neither of 1 or 2 and just let them rot and die.

Take your pick!  But please, think of those lowly victimized healthy students before you do!

Edited by Moonlight Graham

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I'm pretty sure the mechanic who hires a guy cares whether the student took 3 hours to replace an alternator, while another student did it in 60 minutes.  I'm pretty sure a law firm cares that somebody reached their deadline on building a solid case or whether they missed the due date by a couple days.  In many jobs, time is everything. 

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1 hour ago, Moonlight Graham said:

They're trying to accommodate people with disabilities so they can achieve their potential and live a decent life.

No, they are not. They're trying to give them an edge to make up for them having disabilities (real or not). As such it is, as the column suggested, like forcing runners who aren't as fast to only run 80 meters instead of 100 meters like the faster runners. This is 'fair' but not fair. It's fair if they're children playing a game. But university tests are specifically designed to test your knowledge of the material, and a time limit is there for a reason. And yes it can be stressful. I can think of any number of times I had to rush certain answers in order to finish on time. Even in multiple choice tests they usually given you so many you find it very, very hard to finish on time if you pause for very long to consider which is correct. I'm sure I could have done better if I could have spent more time considering them. But then the test is designed to, among other things, test how long it takes you to read and to process information and to come up with an answer.

Quote

  It's not like they're marking them differently.

By making it easier for them to pass the tests they are giving them an advantage. It's even more egregiously stupid given that almost any sort of note from a doctor about you being stressed or depressed qualifies. Your 'disability' can be temporary, only lasting through exam period, for example...

Quote

  It's not "unfair" to the non-disabled,

It clearly is. I take tests in 2hrs and get 80%. Joe takes the same test but he gets 3 hrs and gets 90%. Joe gets hired ahead of me even though in reality I'm better, faster and more capable of doing the work than Joe.

Quote

this isn't about a track & field race, this is about getting through the necessities of life like getting an education & getting a job.  People with disabilities often live in poverty and off disability cheques from the government because they can't hold a job or make a living while competing against normally healthy people.

So what? If they're capable of getting through university they're capable of finding work, even if it's at a lower level. These are not people with deep learning disabilities or they wouldn't be in university in the first place. This isn't a case of them being given preferential treatment or winding up on welfare. There are plenty of good jobs which don't require a university degree. If you don't have the intellectual capability to pass the tests then you shouldn't be passing the tests. End of story.

Life is not fair when it comes to handing out brains. Tough. Do you want a doctor operating on you who only got through medical school because he was given lots of breaks due to his learning disabilities?

Quote

Every single employer, at least in Ontario, has a legal duty to accommodate an employee with a disability to the point of undue hardship

But this does not qualify under those rules.

 

 

 

Edited by Argus

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1 hour ago, Argus said:

By making it easier for them to pass the tests they are giving them an advantage. It's even more egregiously stupid given that almost any sort of note from a doctor about you being stressed or depressed qualifies. Your 'disability' can be temporary, only lasting through exam period, for example...

I've never heard of a doctor's note being used for a school accommodation, maybe it exists I don't know.  A friend had to go through the disabilities centre at the uni and have a psychiatrist fill out a whole bunch of assessment forms including diagnosis.  The profs don't see any of this, it's done through the disabilities centre.  Or at least it should be.

If some people are taking advantage of this well yes that's wrong.

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If a student has some sort of learning disability that requires accommodation from the educational system they can get a diagnosis that will carry them through elementary school, high school and post secondary. At least here in BC.  That may include extra time to complete exams, assignments etc. It's been around for a very long time and there have been no complaints that i can see in BC. 

As i say, this is a stupid and poorly written opinion piece. I guess they were desperate for material. Who knows. 

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14 hours ago, Moonlight Graham said:

I've never heard of a doctor's note being used for a school accommodation, maybe it exists I don't know.  A friend had to go through the disabilities centre at the uni and have a psychiatrist fill out a whole bunch of assessment forms including diagnosis.  The profs don't see any of this, it's done through the disabilities centre.  Or at least it should be.

If some people are taking advantage of this well yes that's wrong.

It's wrong in either case. Look, what is the testing about if not to determine who are the best and brightest? If you tilt the test to give 50% more time to people who aren't then it's dishonest. It makes the whole process unreliable as an assessment of people's abilities.

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In instances of Dyslexia and written exams, the knowledge you are demonstrating doesn't really always relate to the ability to take a test.

I'll concede, I was afforded this luxury myself. 

If you have difficulty with reading, you may need more time to complete an exam, but it doesn't mean you don't know the subject. And if you're in school for some practical skill, the written exam is only a portion of your education, you will, most certainly, have to demonstrate practical ability as well. 

Edited by Boges

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On 8/17/2017 at 0:52 PM, bush_cheney2004 said:

Taking/getting more time than other students during exams is not an accommodation....it is cheating, and long recognized as such.

You're American military. Who knows cheating better than them. Trouble is, as regards this issue, you have shown yourself to be scientifically illiterate. 

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On 8/17/2017 at 7:50 PM, Argus said:

life is not fair when it comes to handing out brains. Tough. Do you want a doctor operating on you who only got through medical school because he was given lots of breaks due to his learning disabilities?

Doctors don't get 50% extra time during surgery or in the ER.  They shouldn't pass their residency in that case.

Edited by Moonlight Graham

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1 minute ago, Moonlight Graham said:

Doctors don't get 50% extra time during surgery or in the ER.  They shouldn't pass their residency in that case.

They get as much time as they need to make sure it is done right.  At least that's what I hope.

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34 minutes ago, Moonlight Graham said:

Doctors don't get 50% extra time during surgery or in the ER.  They shouldn't pass their residency in that case.

Surgery is also not a written exam. 

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1 hour ago, Boges said:

Surgery is also not a written exam. 

But medical students don't get to cut people open. On he other hand, there are more graduates from medical schools than there are internships in hospital every year. So who gets the internships? The students with the highest marks. Why should a student who isn't as good as another be given an easy path to earning higher marks which could get them into an internship ahead of better students? If the time restrictions on tests are not serving the purpose of separating out the better students from the weaker ones, then why have them?

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25 minutes ago, Argus said:

But medical students don't get to cut people open. On he other hand, there are more graduates from medical schools than there are internships in hospital every year. So who gets the internships? The students with the highest marks. Why should a student who isn't as good as another be given an easy path to earning higher marks which could get them into an internship ahead of better students? If the time restrictions on tests are not serving the purpose of separating out the better students from the weaker ones, then why have them?

Yes, because we all know, the best doctors can take written tests quickly. :rolleyes:

I'm assuming the extra time is only in place because of dyslexia. How many brilliant people are dyslexic? Do a Google search. Perhaps a dyslexic shouldn't be an accountant or even a lawyer, because those are fields where attention to detail in text is very important. But so many others aren't. 

Ultimately a dyslexic will have to do the same job as other people and perhaps work harder to deal with their visual impairment. But to say that taking a longer on a written exam makes them less worthy is also extremely simplistic. They're still demonstrating they have that knowledge and in any field that worth anything, they'll also have to practically demonstrate their skills as well.  

Edited by Boges

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4 hours ago, Boges said:

Yes, because we all know, the best doctors can take written tests quickly. :rolleyes:

I'm assuming the extra time is only in place because of dyslexia.

Why are you assuming that when I pointed out the reasons in the OP and linked to a cite which gave the multiple reasons for being given 50% extra time? Is it that you are a slow reader, perhaps, and thus are bypassing the things posted and written because it takes you too long? Because this causes you to give an incorrect and improper answer, you know... That would make you a poor employee.

Here, I'll save you the tremendous effort and just post the most relevant bit.

Depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders are common conditions. Some are permanent and others temporary; some are constant and others recurring. Typically, only a medical note is required to get accommodation, even though many clinicians rely on self-reported symptoms to measure impairment. At some universities, students not need even disclose the nature of the condition they claim to suffer.

Edited by Argus

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