Extra Time or Unused Time? What Data from a College Testing Center Tells Us About 50% Extra Time as an Accommodation for Students with Learning Disabilities

  • Alana HolmesEmail author
  • Robert Silvestri


Recent directives from legislative bodies in the USA and Canada assert that self-report and previous experience should constitute the basis from which accommodations are determined for students with disabilities (SWDs). Extended time for tests is a highly requested accommodation; postsecondary institutions have focused on 50% additional time as a universal starting point. However, the limited research on the issue of extended time has mostly drawn inferences to real-life test situations from studies employing simulated testing situations and participants with self-reported disability status. Archival data from 825 tests/exams held at one college during the 2012 and 2013 school years were analyzed to determine whether, and to what degree students with learning disabilities (SLDs) used the 50% extra time accorded them and what factors influenced the use of extra time. The majority of SLDs did not use extended time, and those who accessed it rarely used more than 25%. Findings have significant implications with respect to the procedures currently in use for the assignment of extra time to SLDs.


Learning disabilities Extra time Postsecondary Assistive technology 



Partial funding for this research was provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities of Ontario. The opinions as expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the funders. The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Rafiq Rahemtulla in the creation of the tables and figures, and his assistance with the statistical analyses contained in this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Approval was obtained from the ethics board at the institution housing the archival data.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource CentreCambrian CollegeSudburyCanada

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