If you are teaching in a class with tests, quizzes, or exams this semester in the USA, then you have told your class, probably on the syllabus, that you will follow the law and give students with documented issues over certain learning environments their required accommodation. I do not have a problem with this.
But don’t you always wonder about the other students that do not give you any such documentation? Might not some of them also benefit from extra time? Might not some of them actually have fairly serious learning issues that mean they do not shine in the traditional test taking setting?
Who does perform well when taking a test in a crowded classroom? The body order of fear increases. You worry about where you gaze, lest you be charged with cheating. You worry about time allocation. Did I spend too much time on that question? You worry about interpretation. Did I answer the right question, or did the teacher mean something really different?
Actually, I always loved tests. I liked the challenge of figuring out the questions and answering them. I liked it that I was doing something. Back when I took tests they were often mimeographed, fragrant with the ink of achievement. I am sure I also loved them because I generally did well on them. They were one of the few active parts of the school day. What I did not like was sitting still and listening. I wanted to be doing something.
It is far more common to hate tests. It is far more common to do less well in this environment. I am very aware that a person who learns normally doing worse in a test taking environment is very different from a person with a serious learning disability doing poorly in that environment. But how do we know all the students in the class were tested for disabilities in the same way? Is it fair to only give those with documentation the accommodation to excel?
What is wrong with giving everyone enough time to be satisfied? What is wrong with giving everyone the opportunity to leave the room and take the test somewhere they are more comfortable? Do we lose anything? Yes, we do if they take the opportunity of privacy to present work as their own that is not. But this is the only thing I see us losing.
There might be another problem. The easiest way to give all students the time they need on tests is to make them short, so they sample the material in a less thorough way. This will punish the student that did not study everything and will punish them in a non-uniform way. Those that happened to study the tested material will do better than those that chose differently. It won’t hurt the thorough students.
This is part of my solution to the testing conundrum. The other part is to use tests judiciously, as only a relatively small part of the entire package. This semester, in my “lecture course” where I don’t actually lecture much at all, the quizzes and tests make up only 37% of the total grade. I mostly use them to make sure the students do the weekly reading in advance. I want to know what they have read and what they got out of it, so I can keep the quizzes short.
I am glad to be part of the change teaching, learning, and universities are undergoing. Thinking about tests and the testing environment is an important part of this change, for students are very good at modifying their studying towards actions which get them points.