UT tries to catch up to serve students in need of testing accommodations

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UT students registered for test accommodations often need alternative places to test that are less distracting than a classroom or have specialized adaptive equipment, but UT currently has very limited testing space to meet those needs. 

There are 2,380 students registered for testing accommodations and 15 seats available for test-taking in the Student Services Building, assistant director for Services for Students with Disabilities Emily Shryock said.

“Our numbers are growing and far outpace the capacity of our space,” Shryock said.

If students with accommodations cannot book a spot at the SSB they have to work out alternative times and places to test with their professor, a process that has led to difficulties for students like Evana Flores. 

Flores, an advertising senior who has ADHD, had to take an exam in her professor’s office while the professor was working, which she said was not a less distracting test-taking space.  

 

To narrow the gap in resources for students like Flores, UT Senate of College Councils passed a bill last February to increase testing spaces. After a freeze on the legislation, David Jenkins, UT Senate president and co-author of the bill, said the Senate is in the final stages of talks to add test spaces in the George I. Sanchez building and the Perry–Castañeda Library with a goal to have the spaces running by the end of the semester. Jenkins said in an email that the exact number of added test-taking seats may not be known until the spaces are designated. 

“The legislation was to create a temporary testing center on campus for students who require testing accommodations,” Jenkins said. “And it really came out of an understanding that the University was not providing for them.”

Jenkins said the ideal answer to fully meet student need is an independent, centralized testing center which will serve students with accommodations and other populations, like student athletes, who often need alternative places to test if their schedules prevent test-taking at the scheduled time.

“Something like that is always difficult at UT because always the No. 1 problem with administration around here is real estate,” Jenkins said. “But we do think this is an important enough issue and an important enough resource that space needs to be found for it somewhere on this campus ... Whatever logistical hurdles need to be gotten past we’re here to help the University get past it.”