The federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 established, among other things, the right of special education students to receive additional time on tests. Not surprisingly in today’s cutthroat world of college admissions, the number of public high school students getting this allowance has soared (“Many More Students, Especially the Affluent, Get Extra Time to Take the SAT,” The Wall Street Journal, May 22).
It’s highly unlikely that there has been an actual increase in the number of students with anxiety and other handicaps. Instead, sophisticated parents are gaming the system. Any stigma attached to the practice was eliminated in 2003 when the College Board, which sponsors the SAT, ceased notifying colleges if a test-taker had been given extra time. The same applies to the ACT.
With absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain, I expect to see 504 designations, which refer to a section of the federal law, abused even more in the future. It’s further evidence of Campbell’s Law: The more any quantitative indicator is used for decision making, the more it will be subject to corruption and the more it will corrupt the very process it is intended to monitor.
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