Understanding Assignment Extensions
- What is this accommodation used for?
- Who receives this accommodation?
- How to evaluate the reasonableness of assignment extensions in a class
- Considerations when implementing assignment extensions
- OAE responsibilities in supporting assignment extensions
- Faculty responsibilities when facilitating assignment extensions
- Student responsibilities when eligible for assignment extensions
- Student email templates to notify use of accommodation
For students with conditions that are episodic in nature or that impact their ability to devote sufficient time to the assignment, strict assignment deadlines and punitive grading on late assignments can prevent them from demonstrating their full mastery of class content. The purpose of reasonable accommodations is to ensure access, and this extends to providing flexibility within class policies to ensure students with disabilities are not disproportionately penalized for exacerbations in their condition, as they may be unpredictable and inevitable despite ongoing health and time management practices.
Students with disabilities who navigate with a wide variety of disability-related experiences are approved for this accommodation. Granting extensions on assignments ensures that the student is not unfairly penalized for having to use alternate means or methods to access written materials and complete their work. Examples of when a student may benefit or be approved for this accommodation:
- Students with compromised reading abilities arising from a learning disability who need more time to process and complete the volume of reading/work
- Students dealing with fluctuating and unpredictable periods of exacerbations of their condition associated with chronic illnesses or mental health disabilities
- Students with executive function impairments who find it difficult to focus and concentrate for sustained periods of time and need to break their work into shorter bursts of time
- Students who need frequent rest periods or who are able to work only for short periods of time, such as those with recent concussions, brain injuries, or chronic illnesses
- Students with reduced or limited stamina who have difficulty sitting, reading, writing/typing for extended periods due to chronic illnesses, physical disabilities, or injuries
- Students who rely on adaptive technology (e.g., screen readers or speech-to-text software) to read and/or write as this process may be slower than reading with normal eyesight
The accommodation for Assignment Extensions should always be considered on an individual class basis, allowing an intentional and critical analysis how the sequencing of assignments and their corresponding deadlines are essential to the class learning objectives and pedagogical components. While a late assignment policy may be incorporated into the grading scheme and syllabus, this accommodation is intended to modify any stated policies to allow some flexibility to account for the student’s disability-related need.
The accommodation should be provided unless the accommodation significantly compromises the integrity of the course as offered. If you believe assignment extensions are not possible, then instructors should consult with a Disability Adviser to determine the reasonability of the request within the specific context of your class. The OAE will consult with instructors using the following questions to determine the reasonability:
- What does the class description and syllabus say about assignment deadlines or late work?
- How is the final class grade calculated? To what extent are assignments factored into the final grade? Are there any alternative grading schemes for assignments (i.e. one assignment grade may be dropped, etc)?
- Are assignment deadline policies consistently applied? (i.e.., Have any exceptions made to the policy for non-disabled students, such as for athletic travel or religious observances? If so, then these exceptions must also be granted to students with disabilities.)
- What is the purpose of the assignment? Is it necessary to have it completed before an exam? Before a discussion?
- Is the material being learned in the class sequentially? Does each week’s material build on the material learned in the previous week(s)? (This may shorten the window of time in which an extension can reasonably be granted.)
- Are assignments used as class content when they are due? Are students required to actively participate in class discussions/activities based off of the assignment? (e.g. problem sets reviewed as the first lecture on that content)
- Are answer sets released that would impact a student’s ability to request an extension? If so, how important is the timeliness of providing the answer sets to student learning and course sequencing?
- Are there other lab or class sections the student could attend to catch up on missed material?
- Does the assignment involve teamwork? Would failure to complete the assignment on time compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?
- Is it possible for students to “work ahead” in this class?
Limits are reasonable; provide clear limits to the number of extensions allowed and the length of such extensions. This is not a “free pass” for students to turn in late work. Agreed upon extensions should be specific and limited to a specific amount of time.
- The instructor’s class policy on late work (e.g., 10 points off a grade for each day late) will remain applicable even to students with Assignment Extensions accommodation if they fail to meet the agreed upon disability-related extension, or if they miss deadlines for other non-disability related reasons.
- Students are never required to provide doctor’s notes to justify use of this accommodation.
- Accommodations are not retroactive; instructors are not obligated to adjust previous penalties for late work if accommodation letter is provided after-the-fact.
Reviews documentation and meet with students to better understand their disability-related experiences. Through this interactive process, a Disability Adviser will determine if a student is eligible for Assignment Extensions to mitigate disability-related impacts throughout the quarter. If so, Assignment Extensions will be listed as an eligible accommodation on the student’s accommodation letter.
- Consults and supports faculty in determining reasonableness of accommodation or how to implement this accommodation in light of essential class elements.
- Provides support to students and faculty when questions or difficulties arise related to the accommodation.
Once instructors have been notified of eligibility for accommodations, instructors should determine the extent to which they can reasonably grant assignment extensions without fundamentally altering the learning objectives. The OAE is available for consultation if you have questions regarding how the accommodation interacts with essential elements of the class and determining if or what adjustments are reasonable.
If you believe the accommodation is not reasonable in light of your class objectives or pedagogical methods, contact the student’s Disability Adviser immediately as instructors should never unilaterally deny an accommodation. Instructors are expected to clearly articulate why flexibility is not reasonable.
- The instructor should engage in dialogue with the student or the OAE regarding assignment extension expectations: delineate the preferred communication process for when the student needs to notify you of a disability-related extension, typical grace period for an extension, and any critical assignments that cannot be extended.
It is highly recommended that any limitations to reasonability for assignment extensions is summarized in writing through email. The email summary helps ensure everyone is operating from the same point of view and that any confusion of the agreement can be clarified. Students and instructors are welcome to include the student's assigned Disability Adviser on these email exchanges for documentation purposes.
- When a student needs to utilize this accommodation, they are responsible for notifying their instructor in a timely manner. ”Timely” is defined as “as soon as possible.” Instructor must reply to the student’s request for an extension to negotiate if a deadline extension is workable for that assignment.
- Instructor will request consultation with OAE if they believe that extending the deadlines for assignments would fundamentally alter an essential element of their class or if they have questions about what a reasonable amount of time extensions is within the context of their class.
- If extensions are pedagogically possible, the instructor will work with the student in good faith to determine a reasonable amount of time and set a new deadline for each eligible assignment.
- Instructor will verify the specific plan for the new assignment due date in writing (by email) with the student.
- The OAE is always available to mediate any concerns about Assignment Extensions, including concerns about academic integrity and logistics of this accommodation. The OAE remains a neutral party in evaluating what is reasonable as an accommodation and is here to support you.
Students approved for Assignment Extensions must request their accommodation letters on OAE | CONNECT and distribute their accommodation letters to instructors at the beginning of the quarter, or as soon as they are made eligible for the accommodation.
- Students must collaborate to determine the reasonability of Assignment Extensions within the context of each class by either:
- Initiating contact with your instructor to discuss the boundaries of the accommodation and developing protocols for how it will be used OR
- Requesting guidance from OAE Disability Adviser. The Disability Adviser will contact the instructor to determine the boundaries of the accommodation and any necessary protocols.
- Student should clearly understand if or how assignment extensions will be granted in light of the class learning objectives and structure. This entails knowing the finite number of extensions that can be allowed, how to communicate with the professor when they need to request an extension, and any critical assignments that cannot receive an extension.
- When a student needs to utilize this accommodation for an upcoming assignment, they are responsible for reaching out to the instructor through email as early as reasonably possible to request the extension and clarify a new due date.
- At no time are students required to present documentation to instructors in order to justify a disability-related need for an extension.
- Students should not plan on the extension being automatically provided and should always use this accommodation, if available, with care.
- If a student receives a paper or assignment extension and is unable to meet the deadline, a new extension request must be made.
- The OAE is always available to mediate any concerns about navigating Assignment Extensions in a specific class.
Initial Coordination of Accommodation Agreements
Dear Professor ______,
My name is ________ and I am a student in your _________ class. I am writing to share my OAE accommodation letter with you and to discuss the accommodations outlined in it. I would like to proactively explore how my accommodation for assignment extensions may work in your class.
If and when I need an extension for disability-related reasons, I will contact you prior to the assignment due date to initiate my request. Typically, I may need ______ additional days to complete an assignment and I will request a new due date within this timeline. While I can’t always predict when my disability will impact me, I will provide as timely notice as possible when I need an assignment extension.
Please let me know if there are any assignments in which an extension would be unreasonable or alter the learning experience so that I know in advance.
Thank you for your assistance and support. I have also cc’d my Disability Adviser on this message if you have any questions or concerns about my accommodations.
Email Notifying Utilization of Assignment Extension
Dear Professor ________,
I am enrolled in your class (class name and section). Earlier this quarter I sent you my Accommodation Letter from the OAE indicating my eligibility for assignment extensions as an accommodation. Due to disability-related reasons, I am unable to submit (assignment name) by (date).
I’m writing to you to ask for an extension of (length of time, x days) on this assignment. If this is reasonable, I will submit the assignment by (new due date). Please let me know if this accommodated due date is reasonable in light of assignment or class learning objectives. Your request timeline should be reasonable to the complexity of the assignment, i.e. problem set may need additional 1-3 days versus a 15 page term paper needing more time.
If you have questions about my accommodations, my Disability Advisor, (Advisor Name), can be reached at ADVISOR.EMAIL@stanford.edu.
Thank you in advance for your consideration,