Pop Quiz Dilemma

What do you do about pop quizzes and the student who has been granted extended test time as an accommodation?
Trying to provide accommodation a student for a "pop quiz" can be difficult if the faculty member chooses to give the quiz during the middle of the class. The student with a disability will often have to leave the room in order to go take their quiz in a separate quiet room, thus drawing attention to the fact that he or she is leaving during quiz times.
If quizzes are given at the beginning of the class, the student with the extended time accommodation may find that he will have to come into class late, and as a result may have missed valuable classroom lecture material. D. Ruth Fink, University professor and former Disability Services provider asks, "Is it the accuracy of the information I want from students or is the response time the main element?" when taking pop quizzes into account. Fink offers the following advise for classroom pop quizzes:
Figure out some other way to get the information that you need from pop quizzes (which is presumably, did students read and comprehend the assignment? Is the student keeping up with daily readings and assignments and how well are students internalizing the reading? Can the student apply principles to practical application situations?)

Here are some possible options:
  • give the quiz at the beginning of class and permit the student to begin the quiz earlier than the rest of the class
  • Allow the student to take the quiz in a previously agreed upon location near the classroom. The student would return to class after the extended test time. Allow the student additional time after class to complete the quiz. If the test has four questions and you allow the class ten minutes to take the quiz, grade the student on two questions or three questions, depending upon whether the student is entitled to time and a half or double time.
  • Vary how you obtain this pop-quiz information from students - one day do a class quiz on the overhead, discussing the answers with the whole class- this is usually a good learning experience for all types of learners do an in-class, small-group question and have students obtain the answers as a group and report to the class.
  • Allow the student additional time after class to complete the quiz.
  • Administer the pop quiz at the end of the class.
  • Make the quizzes more difficult, but take-home for everyone.
* If none of the above options are feasible, another possibility would be for the student to take the pop quiz without extended test time, but the instructor would not count the grade for or against the student.

If you plan to use pop quizzes, the best way to avoid awkward situations is to communicate early in the quarter with the student who needs extended time. Together you can develop a workable solution for everyone involved. Remember, accommodations are always negotiable, but if an accommodation is not provided, we must be prepared to document and justify our actions and be ready to explain why an accommodation was not provided.


Top of page September 11, 2013
Disability Resource Center
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