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Consideration Adjustments Involving Attendance, Deadlines, and Rescheduling Exams

 

Introduction:

This guide is for faculty working with students recommended for a consideration adjustment with regard to attendance, meeting deadlines or rescheduling exams. This guide outlines factors for faculty to take into account when a “consideration” for flexibility is made. It also describes student and faculty responsibilities. Academic flexibility is individually determined based on course content and structure. Student Disability Resources (SDR) staff are always available to consult with faculty and students on the reasonableness of a flexibility plan.

Flexing a course standard can provide an alternate way for a student to meet essential course requirements and actively participate in the course while also managing a disability. Please note: students are expected to request consideration for a flexibility adjustment as early in the semester as possible. Retroactive requests should be discussed with the student’s Disability Specialist at SDR.

When Flexibility is Appropriate:

Academic adjustments are intended to provide equal access to students with a disability. A reasonable academic adjustment preserves both the integrity of the course and the student’s right to participate in classroom activities. Appropriate adjustments do not change or lower the essential elements of the course.

Attendance

Generally, students are expected to follow established classroom attendance policies. When a student has a chronic condition with unpredictable or cyclical acute episodes, an accommodation to flex the attendance policy may be appropriate. Faculty are encouraged to work with the student and the student’s Disability Specialist to find a flexible way for the student to meet course requirements without altering the essential nature of the course. Please refer to Policy 42-27 (http://www.psu.edu/ufs/policies/separate_policy/42-27.htm) for further information on Penn State’s policy for class attendance. 

The following, based on questions developed by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, are guidelines faculty can use when determining whether attendance is an essential function of the course:

  1. How much classroom interaction is there between the instructor and students, and among students?
  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning (e.g. foreign language, lab courses)?
  4. To what degree does a student's absence constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  5. How is attendance calculated in the final grade?
  6. What is the classroom policy regarding attendance?


Due date/deadline extensions and missed exams

Similarly, students may request a due date extension or to reschedule an exam. These requests may be time sensitive due to the sudden onset of symptoms. Professors and students are strongly encouraged to proactively discuss the possibility of the student requesting an extension and/or rescheduling an exam due to symptom flare-up.  Items to discuss include:

  • How and when the student will notify faculty;
  • How the student will make up missed content; and
  • The time frame/deadline for completion.
     

Students Responsibilities:

  • Meet with faculty as early in the semester as possible to request flexibility accommodations.
  • Give faculty a copy of your academic adjustment letter, “Rights and Responsibilities for Requesting Academic Adjustments” form and “Consideration Adjustment Agreement” form.
  • Complete the “Consideration Adjustment Agreement” form with your instructor, sign it, have your instructor sign and keep a copy of the form.  Bring the form back to SDR in 116 Boucke Building (M-F 8am-5pm) and ask the SDR Receptionist to give you a copy of this form.
  • Communicate with faculty regularly throughout the semester to keep them apprised of disability-related consideration requests.      
     

Faculty Responsibilities:

  • Be available to discuss the adjustments with the student by appointment or during office hours.
  • Discuss the student’s academic adjustment letter and the “Rights and Responsibilities for Requesting Adjustments” form with the student. 
  • Complete the “Consideration Adjustment Agreement” form with the student.  Discuss how you expect the student to communicate with you when a class will be missed or a postponement is being requested, and the guidelines/deadlines for making up missed work.
  • Sign and date the “Consideration Adjustment Agreement” form, have the student sign and date the form and make a copy of the form for your records. Keep this form with the student’s academic adjustment letter.
     

The name and contact information of the Disability Specialist is included on the student’s academic adjustment letter. If needed, the Disability Specialist can assist with determining the amount of flexibility that is fair and reasonable.

Adapted by permission from: the McBurney Disability Resource Center (2014, April 7). Academic Flexibility as a Disability Accommodation: A Faculty Guide for Implementation. Retrieved from http://mcburney.wisc.edu/facstaffother/faculty/flexibility.php