Students with ADD getting double time and private rooms on exams

I was going to post this in Great Debates, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is not much of a debate. If I’m wrong let me know.

I tutor a student who attends a prominent private school who informed me that 16 of the 18 students in his higher level math course are allowed twice as long on tests due to ADD. He also told me they get twice as long on the SAT, an extremely time-sensitive examination. I’ve seen this at another private school as well, so I know that it is not that uncommon. In many cases the students get their own private room to take the exam on top of the double time. How is the student I tutor supposed to compete for college acceptance with those who get double the time on the SAT?

As a college professor, I also have students who are allowed double time on tests. Now some of them have debilitating disorders and I am all for them taking as much extra time as needed on exams, but occasionally I get a student who is “distracted by noises” and thus is allowed to take the exam in a private room, with double time provided. I feel this is an abuse of the system.

Am I wrong to disagree with these practices? Is this what the current younger generation requires to make it? I feel that once these kids get into the real world, they’re not going to be able to tell their boss “I have ADD, so I’m going to need double the time to turn in this report” or “can you please quiet that screaming baby, I’m trying to perform CPR on this patient and get distracted by sounds”. Unfortunately, it is also not my place as a young instructor to challenge this system (with a family to feed), but hopefully I can somewhat anonymously disagree with it here (especially double time on the SAT section).

They get extra time on the AP exams as well.

Fuck 'em. Most of the kids are faking it with the connivence of their parents and school so their test results will be sky-high. It’s a win/win for the school. Everybody else loses, but that’s what they get for not going to a ritzy private school. :rolleyes:

You should bring the school to the attention of the College Board, which administers the SAT and AP exams. I’m sure they’d be interested to know that 88% of the students from one school suffer the same learning disability.

I have ADD, and I don’t feel that I need extra time on things like tests. Extra time in life overall because I get so freakin’ distracted among many other things, but it’s hard to get too distracted when you’re taking a test. It’s you and the test. And the floor, and a ticking clock. Nothing better to do that do the damn thing.

This makes even less sense because most true ADD kids tend toward the bright end of the smarts scale, giving them extra time really tilts things in their favor. The policy is foolish.

My understanding is that to receive the accommodation for the exams, ETS or whoever would have had to review the documentation and approve it.

Are you sure he’s a reliable reporter? I’ve had students in my own classes complain about the “huge” number of other students receiving testing accommodations when I (the person reviewing the documentation from university disability services and scheduling the alternative exams) was aware that the actual number was 4 (1 of whom was legally blind) out of over 80.

ADD also can mean you have problems putting together words that are printed. I never could finish written tests on time. The class would be done, and I’d be writing answers for another 15 minutes until the teacher said class is over turn in the tests. I knew the material, I just couldn’t get it down in writing quickly. Back then there was no ADD special time and condition tests either. You’re not measuring how much they know, if they can’t finish the test. Is there a reason the non ADD student should be checked for what they know in a manner that works good for them, but not for the ADD student? Would you rather read them the test, and have them tell you the answer? Probably not. I know that there are a lot students out there that don’t need the extra help on tests that claim it. Don’t let those people make you think this isn’t needed by the truly problematic students, if they are to have their true knowledge tested. Should the ADD not attend college, because they can’t take a test quickly when it’s given? Should they never be bettered, for this reason? Once they go to use the knowledge on a job, they will either do it satisfactorily or get fired, but at least they got a true test of their knowledge in school.

In the case of a job if it is important that you need to do reading and writing at a certain speed, a timed written test is relevant. In the case of needing a mentally done task preformed, a timed test may still be relevant, but it could be oral. Even the ADD people can hold down a job, they just need to apply for where their short comings are not a significant part of the job. Applying for a job where your short comings are not important is something all person need to do.

There are communities where almost every student has been classified as ADD. This is something the poor parents have done to get government assistance for all their kids. It’s like the town in Florida where many of the residents had hand and leg accidents that paid an insurance policy.

You’re right on the fact that I’d take this into consideration when accepting students from this school into my college. But unfortunately colleges are not told this information when they see students’ scores.

I have no reason to distrust him, but you are right in that I cannot personally verify this number. But 16/18 is a heck of an exaggeration, if he were making it up I wouldn’t expect him to fudge the numbers that much. You’re also right in the fact that I only have about 1.6% of my class receiving extra time/private rooms, but it’s still a completely new and odd concept to me, coming from the generation before this one, where we didn’t even know what ADD was (back in the 90s).

Problem is, this also seems to apply for things like Nursing school. Someone I met in the nursing program got extra time/help for her testing as well. Nursing involves tons of interpretation of written reports and notes, and thats if we completely disregard things like proper identification of medication sometimes under emergency circumstances. If someone cannot perform under time pressure in a classroom, its gonna be a hell of a lot worse with a very sick patient in front of you.

Why not have every student work to the needs of the lowest common denominator then? If one kid needs 2 hours for the test, then everyone gets 2 hours. Then ADD kid gets his needed time, but the rest of the kids get the same time. Case closed right?

What’s next? Letting certain kids use their books on some exams because they have long/short term memory problems and just can’t seem to remember the stuff they read last night? Or letting a kid use a calculator on math tests when other kids can’t just because he can’t add/subtract/multiply etc… as fast as the other kids?

As long as everyone is treated the same, I have no beef with it though.

Yes, this is exactly what we have to do. There are a multitude of state and federal laws concerning “allowances.” You ought to see the drawer full of files I have this year on “adaptations” I am expected to perform, or allow to be performed, by my students. I’m all for helping students be successful, but by the time they’re seniors, the real world is just around the corner, and it doesn’t give a shit. The boss isn’t going to give Mabel extra time to get her orders right. One night of slow food and customer complaints and she’s out on her ass.

They can either handle the job or they can’t. It would surface as a problem before they ever worked by their self. Not letting them test in a way that tests their knowledge, keeps them from ever graduating or showing their true level of knowledge. They never will get to learn college material, if they flunk out because they can’t read and write quickly. If every position requiring nursing school is beyond them after college, they didn’t make a wise choice choosing nursing as a profession. I’m sure that their are positions in every field that can be filled, by some people with ADD. ADD persons deserve a chance at educating themselves, just like the people that don’t have it. Schools are there to teach all people, not to weed out people with problems unrelated to being educated. It’s pretty selfish to think an ADD student shouldn’t have a chance at better jobs in the future, because you don’t want to test them in a way that allows them to stay in school. Be grateful that your not a person with ADD, and you can do reading and writing quickly. It will qualify you better for some jobs, but the ADD person will still be able to try and beat you in getting the job. I think the main problem is every time people can narrow the group of people they directly compete against, the more secure they feel. Competing always leds to resentment of others that preform better than you, with people trying to disadvantage the competition. By allowing students to be checked on their acquired knowledge and comprehension, which is the purpose of going to school, the non ADD students wish for the old system back that lowers the ADD student’s grade.

Extend the allowed test times for all the students, so long as everybody has the time to finish.

The problem is that the way you make certain tests difficult-AP, SAT, PSAT–is by limiting the time the students have. The math on the SAT isn’t hard–lots more kids would get 800s if it weren’t timed. If you made it untimed for everyone, you’d have to make it much, much harder in order to get the differentation that you are looking for, and so everyone would take much longer. It’s already a five-hour test, timed–kid with extra time take it over two days. Get rid of the time limit, everyone will take two days–that’s a logistical nightmare.

I don’t know of any good solution. There are kids who clearly need extra time, and for whom extra time undoubtably shows a more honest picture of thier abilities. On the other hand, if the system is in place, people will abuse it–and I have seen some horrific examples of abuse. Often, it’s not intended as “cheating” or ever “working the system”–it’s more often parents are concerned when their child isn’t making straight As despite working very hard, and they decide that it means there must be something wrong with their kid. There is this weird idea floating around that if you are working hard, you deserve very top grades and scores, as if it’s a moral thing, a reward for a good work ethic. By that logic, parents aren’t cheating, they are responding to what, to them, seems like clear evidence that little Suzie has a learning disability–she made an 87 instead of a 95. So they go from doctor to doctor until they find one that agrees.

It’s at least interesting that according to this cite, Thirty-seven percent of students with disabilities in high school came from families with household incomes below $25,000, compared to only 20% of their peers (National Longitudinal Transitions Study [NLTS] 2, 2003).

The interesting part is that this experience is reversed only in the case of ADD, that is that of all disabilities, only ADD is more prevalent in the children of higher income families. The highest income quartile is most affected by ADD.

It may be missed diagnoses in lower income families, that lower income students are more likely to be labeled as behavior problems than as having ADD, or it may be disability shopping by higher income families to look for reasons why their student is not performing up to their expectations, but something is skewing the data.

I would propose the following experiment:

Give an untimed test to 25 ADD-kids and 25 non-ADD kids. This will establish a baseline to compare the groups. Next, give all the kids a test that involves significant time pressure, but the ADD-kids get 2 hours and the non-ADD kids get only 1 hour.

If the claim that double time is just an accomodation for a disability is correct, the performance of the ADD-kids should not change significantly compared to the non-ADD kids. On the other hand, if double time is just an unfair advantage, one would expect the scaled performance of the ADD-kids to rise on the second test.

My prediction is that the performance of the ADD-kids would improve significantly on the second test. So it’s not just that they are getting more time – it’s that other kids are getting less.

My primary problem is the extension of testing because this is a profession with lives at stake. Like it or not, school programs especially advanced training programs like RN programs are designed weed out those unequipped for the demands of the profession. Would you want a doctor who got double time for all his tests and would not have passed if he didn’t? How about if hes and ER doc? Your surgeon? How many of them are going to school on scholarship programs? How many being admitted to limited size programs like medical schools and nursing programs? You can’t just toss in another body 2 years into medical school.

Please tell me what kind of advanced professional anything you would knowingly choose to help you if you knew that he had extra time throughout school above and beyond what his peers recieved to complete testing and or assignments? Your attorney? Your accountant?

My problem with this particular accomodation is that ADD, like all disorders, are on a continuum. One can be severely ADD’d and another can have mild ADD. Even if we allow that severely ADD students should have double time, surely that doesn’t mean that all ADD students should get double time.

I also wonder if it’s fair to only give ADD students this particular accomodation. What about students dealing with anxiety disorders? There was a period in my life when I had really bad test anxiety, and my mind would go blank the moment all the test papers were handed out. I’m sure my scores would have improved if I had extra time and/or private space too.

Or what about students who just aren’t very bright? Surely they would benefit from receiving extra time on tests.

There is always going to be some person who, for whatever reason, can’t finish the test in the alloted time period. A weak math student will take forever to do the math portion of the SAT. That this is true doesn’t mean the test is unfair to weak math students.

Which shows they don’t know the math, not that they couldn’t write fast enough. They would finish and properly be evaluated as not knowing their math. Extending test time for slower writing skills is not the same as allowing a kid to sit there while not writing in answers.

For the doctor protest. I don’t care if the doctor has trouble writing fast, so long as they learned their courses. The doctor can be very quick witted and knowledgeable, but have problems writing. Being slower writing or reading isn’t the same as being an idiot. The problem is in making the sentences come out quickly in written down form. I write at maybe half the speed of other people. For something like a prescription this is no problem. A couple paragraphs is no problem. A good doctor can hire a transcriptionist if they have to do a bunch of large reports often. Clinics have people to deal with the paper work already, and other professionals hire people for transcriptions all the time. Don’t equate ADD with stupid or slow witted. It is not.

If it’s in their IEP, then absolutely, positively no question, they get the extra time. If it’s not in their IEP then they should absolutely, positively not. There is nothing so black and white and minutely involving as school-age children’s special education requirements, as long as the proper people have filled out the proper documents. It’s getting harder and harder to “coast” now, at least, with some of the NCLB requirements changing the way things are done.

Sucks, but in this case, I do what I’m told and don’t make waves, because there’s very little more litigious than a parent who is informed of special education law.