Assignment Extension Accommodation Guidelines

Assignment Extension Accommodation Guidelines

What is an assignment extension accommodation?

The purpose of the assignment extension accommodation is to provide reasonable flexibility for a student who has a disabling health condition that may have episodic and acute symptoms that interfere with the ability to meet the due date of a class assignment.

The accommodation is approved when necessary to provide equitable access and to ensure that a student with a disability is not disproportionately penalized for exacerbations of their disability’s unpredictable symptoms.

  • When a late assignment policy or penalties are part of the grading structure described in the course syllabus, this disability-based accommodation is intended to modify the stated policies of the course to provide some flexibility to a student whose disability is impacting work submission.
  • Once approved as an ADA accommodation, the reasonableness of an assignment extension is evaluated on an individualized, assignment-by-assignment basis when requested by the student. Timing of the request, length of the extension, length of the assignment, course structure, and disability impact are all part of the determination of the extension request.
  • This accommodation is generally not approved as a substitution for proper time and workload management when the impact of the disability is steady and stable. Continuous difficulties with meeting course deadlines and submitting assignments typically need to be addressed through academic success planning meetings, reduced course load, or other support resources. Solutions and alternatives can be discussed with a disability specialist at any time during a semester when difficulties arise and the support of our Academic Success Center partners may also be part of the solution.

Assignment Extension request process

  1. If an extension is needed beyond a posted due date, students may initiate the accommodation request by first contacting their instructor.

While an instructor may approve a direct extension request from a student directly (e.g. approving a 1-2 day extension), a denial should never occur without consulting an SDS staff member first.

  1. Once an extension request is received, the instructor is encouraged to contact SDS if there are questions regarding the reasonableness of an extension for the assignment in question. For example, questions may pertain to extending the assignment itself or the length of extension time requested.
  2. Students are expected to request an extension before the assignment is due. However, the nature of disability symptoms may make this impossible, in which case, the request should be made as soon as the student is reasonably able (e.g., hospitalization may impact the ability to communicate).
  3. Assignments are expected to be completed as soon as possible after the original deadline, taking disability symptoms into account. Typical extensions are within 24-48 hours of due date but may be reasonable up to 5 or 7 days depending on health circumstances.
  4. This accommodation is approved on an individual assignment basis and is not a blanket approval of extensions for all work in a semester.
  5. Instructors may not ask for specific disability information from students or SDS. SDS will correspond with the student to confirm that their disability has impacted the ability to meet a deadline and will discuss a reasonable timeline for submitting the work given the disability impact. Doctor’s notes should be sent to SDS and not instructors regarding disability information.
  6. As with any accommodation, an instructor may consult with SDS if they believe that an assignment extension would fundamentally alter the nature of their course and significantly compromise the integrity of the course and ability to progress in the course.
  7. Agreed upon extension due dates should be addressed in writing.

For example, a student requests to submit a paper a day past the due date due to a flare in her health condition that incapacitated her from doing any work that day. She emails the instructor to request an extension and the instructor replies that they are agreeable to application of the accommodation for the assignment, and states that the assignment is now due at Midnight the following day and will incur no late penalty.  


Determining Extension Accommodation Reasonableness

SDS will consider the following to determine the reasonableness of an extension (or alternatives) request from a student:

  • Input from the instructor regarding the course, which allows for critical analysis of the extent to which the sequencing of assignments and their corresponding deadlines are essential to the course learning objectives and pedagogical components. Information in the syllabus about assignment deadlines and late work policies is reviewed in this context.
  • The nature of the assignment and how long students had to prepare, plan for and complete it.
  • Whether assignment completion directly impacts future assignments or tests (e.g., Is this a homework assignment that is being discussed immediately in class? Or, needs to be done in order to start the next assignment?)
  • Whether the assignment is used as class content when it is due (e.g., Are students required to use the assignment to actively engage in class discussions?)
  • The extent to which upcoming course material and activities build upon the assignment in question (e.g., Will a student become behind for the remainder of the course due to extension timing?)
  • Whether answer sets for the assignment are released to the class and how flexible this can be without compromising student learning and course sequencing (Will answers be shared and discussed aloud in class prior to the accommodated student’s submission?)
  • Potential review or consideration of the assignment to evaluate adequate partial completion if there has been a significant amount of time to work on the assignment (e.g., What has been completed and possibly could be graded? Are lowest grades dropped in a course? Are there make-up assignments or other opportunities? Consider all factors.)
  • Whether assignment completion directly impacts the educational experience of other students in the class (e.g., For a group assignment, would failure to complete the assigned portion directly impact the other group members’ ability to complete their portion of the assignment?)
  • Exceptions to late policies under other circumstances, such as athletic travel or religious observances (e.g., Is there consistency in extensions?).
  • Information about changes in the student’s health and impact on coursework and participation is always considered as part of the discussion and is done with an SDS disability specialist. Confidential health information is not to be shared with the faculty member/course instructor.

Click here for the Assignment Accommodation Guidelines document