Testing Accommodations

One of the most popular services provided by the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) to professors and their students with disabilities is proctoring of accommodated testing. Proctoring exams for students with disabilities requires responsive communication between faulty and SSD staff.

It All Starts with the Accommodation Notification

Early in the term, the professor should receive an accommodation notification email from SSD. If the student is eligible for testing accommodations, the accommodation email will include a red box with a link specific to that student that will ask the professor to create an alternative testing contract for the student. (This contract is essentially the profs directions for how to administer exams.) For additional guidance, please see SSD's instructions for filling in alternative testing contract (Word doc).

The student receiving accommodations is also instructed to contact the professor early in the quarter to discuss the type and method of accommodation he or she will need and answer any questions the professor may have.

Professors Proctoring Exams vs. SSD Proctoring Exams

SSD office door ajar with testing sign on it, click to enlarge

SSD's office is staffed by only 3 professionals and has space for 10 testers. For this and other issues, such as students' ability to ask questions, it is greatly appreciated when professors are able to proctor tests themselves. Because of space limitations, SSD requires Professors (or TAs) to proctor for groups of 4 or more students, especially during peak exam times. In these situations, SSD may contact the faculty member and work out a plan for proctoring the exam (please see below for more information on exams proctored by the professor).

Students should remind their professors at least one week prior about testing accommodations. If a professor or TA is unable to proctor the student's exam, the student can request to take the exam at the SSD office by scheduling the exam through SSD’s database (AccessibleNU) at least one week in advance.

If the professor and student have agreed that the student will take his/her exam at SSD:
1. The professor will need to fill out the student's Alternative Testing Contract (available via a link in the student's accommodation email) to initiate this arrangement.
2. Next, the student must schedule his/her exam (through AccessibleNU) at least one week prior to each exam he or she needs to take in the SSD office. Professors and TAs are not able to schedule exams for their students.

Unless specifically allowed by the instructor, books, notes, cell phones, or any other non-essential items will not be allowed into the testing room. Students are permitted to exit the testing room only to use the rest room.

If a change in testing arrangements is necessary, SSD must be notified immediately. If a student wishes to reschedule an exam, SSD staff must have written or verbal approval from the instructor.

Additional Considerations When SSD Proctors Exams

If your exam requires blue books, we appreciate it whenever you can provide them to us.

Instructors are requested to send exams to SSD at least 24 hours in advance. This ensures that SSD can have the exam ready for the student by start time.

Only the professor can OK a makeup for a missed exam. Repeated failures of a student to show up for a proctored exam will result in loss of privileges to take exams at the SSD office. 

If a faculty member refuses to allow an approved accommodation that he/she has been informed of, the student should notify SSD and the school or college responsible for the course immediately.

Exams Proctored by a Professor or TA

When professors proctor their own exams, we ask that they provide one reduced-distraction room for their SSD students to take the exam together (provided they have approximately 15 SSD students or less). Unless a student requires a “separate room” as their accommodation, it is acceptable for them to test together.

SSD will NOT require professors to proctor students needing computer-use or double-time (or higher-level accommodations); our office is better equipped to proctor for those particular students.

Professors and TAs can use their department administrators or Facilities Management’s website for booking campus spaces to serve as proctoring sites. That website, including information on locations available, is located here: http://www.northwestern.edu/fm/campus-spaces/classroom-catalog.html. In order to reserve a room, the user must login to the Northwestern Room and Event system (link in the lower right corner). Once the user has selected a time, location, use, etc., they can enter the information, and will receive confirmation within two business days.

Finally, SSD greatly appreciates when professors proctor their own exams and is happy to provide further information on how best to do so. Faculty are also encouraged to contact their department chairs or administrators for department or building-specific assistance.