Spenceley, L. M., & Wheeler, S. (2016). The use of extended time by college students with disabilities . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 29 (2), 141–150. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped

Journal Article

Spenceley, L. M., & Wheeler, S. (2016). The use of extended time by college students with disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(2), 141–150. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped


[no doi reported]; Also downloadable from ERIC online database: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1113036


Attention problem; Autism; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Learning disabilities; Multiple disabilities; Physical disability; Postsecondary; U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)





The researchers studied the common application of extended time -- either 150% or 200% of typical time allotted -- during course exams as a practice across several postsecondary classes. The use of the accommodations was examined, rather than the impact of the accommodations.


Course examination records (n=1093) from a total of 187 postsecondary students with disabilities at a public university in the northeastern United States were analyzed for patterns. Disabilities included learning disabilities (38%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; 24%), multiple disabilities (13%), mental health disabilities (10%), autism spectrum disorder (6%), physical disabilities (5%), visual impairments (3%), and medical disabilities (<1%). Other demographic data, such as gender and age, and year of academic study, were also reported. Of the 1,093 exams, 605 were taken with 150% time and 488 were taken with 200% time.

Dependent Variable

The purpose of this inquiry was to describe the use of extended time during course examinations; that is, the test results were not measured, but rather, the amount of time postsecondary students used during course exams comprised the dependent variable. The number of minutes used by postsecondary students was reported, comparing the time use to the time permitted for students without disabilities. Means of time used were also compared among subsets of students with various disabilities.


Overall, the population mean, for all postsecondary students with disabilities, for the proportion of standard exam time used was 103%. The students who were offered 1.5 extended time (or 90 minutes for every hour of standard exam time), on average, used 96% of standard exam time, and the students who were offered 2.0 extended time used an average of 112% of standard exam time. Put another way, the researchers stated, "a majority (54.62%) of students with disabilities who took tests under extended time conditions completed them in the time allotted in the classroom" (p. 144) -- that is, the standard exam time. Patterns of time use for disability group student subsets were also reported. The average postsecondary student with a visual disability, the average student with a medical disability, and the average student with a learning disability completed the exam within the standard exam time. Typically, students with other disabilities -- including ADHD, autism, physical, and multiple disabilities -- completed exams in more than the standard exam time. For students provided 1.5 extended time, all students with visual impairments completed tests within that time period, and over 90% of students with LD completed exams within that time, and 89% of students with multiple disabilities completed exams within that time. On the other hand, only 63% of students with psychiatric disabilities receiving 1.5 extended time completed exams within that time. For students provided 2.0 extended time, all students with visual impairments, 95% of students with learning disabilities, and at least 90% of students with ADHD or psychiatric disabilities or physical disabilities completed exams within that time. Sixty-three course exams -- by students with a variety of disability types -- were not completed within either extended time accommodation condition provided. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.