Rock Valley College

Chapter 20: Flexibility with Attendance & Assignments

Students are expected and encouraged to attend class and meet deadlines for assignments and tests. Most course syllabi clearly outline the expected course assignments/exams and subsequent due dates for each. Students should regularly reference these dates and appropriately manage their time to ensure that work is completed by the expected due date(s).

Faculty have the right to establish attendance and late work policies. However, if a student has a disability with random or cyclical acute episodes that may occasionally impact their ability to attend class and complete tests or assignments at the scheduled time, flexibility in attendance/assignments may be considered an appropriate accommodation. The number of allowable absences and the amount of time given for each assignment extension depends on the interactive or participatory nature of a course, and/or may be based on department, college or accrediting agency rules. Therefore, attendance policies are set by faculty at the college or departmental level.

Students who may have difficulty adhering to an attendance requirement or who may occasionally miss an assignment deadline or test due to circumstances directly related to a disability may seek an accommodation. The process for requesting this accommodation is through DSS. All requests are considered individually and on a case-by-case basis.

DSS may consult with instructors about possible flexibility in attendance/assignment requirements as a possible accommodation whenever necessary and appropriate. In such a situation, the goal will be to understand in the role attendance plays in the design of the course, as well as the impact or role timing of assignments and exams play in the interactive or participatory nature of the course.

Specifically, the following may be explored:
 

  • What is the course attendance requirement? What do the course description and syllabus say?
     
  • What method is used to calculate the final grade? (attendance, assignments, exams, etc.)
     
  • Is the attendance (and late work or missed exams) requirement applied consistently? Are exceptions to the requirement made for extenuating circumstances, such as athletic travel or religious observation?
     
  • How much interaction is there between the instructor and students and among students?
     
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
     
  • Does the design of the course rely on student participation as a significant method for learning? Attendance and/or their assignment (project) contributions.
     
  • Is there content only offered in class?
     
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class or do an assignment on time compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?
     

If the Flexibility in Attendance/Assignments accommodation is determined to be reasonable, DSS will work with faculty and students to clearly specify:
 

  • How and when the student should inform faculty that they will miss a class.
     
  • How the student will make up missed assignments and/or exams.
     
  • The number of absences (beyond what any student is allowed) that would be reasonable.
     
  • If it is reasonable for online discussion expectations to be modified due to disability-related reasons and under what conditions.
     
  • If it is reasonable to extend the window for completing online exams or assignments.
     
  • Whether a drop, withdraw or incomplete may be appropriate based on the student’s situation.
     

Process
 

  1. The student requests Flexibility in Attendance and Assignments as an accommodation  via the Accommodations Portal.       
     
  2. The DSS office determines whether or not the request is reasonable and communicates this to the student. When the accommodation is approved, it is explained to the student that this does not mean, however, that a student can miss as many classes as they want, and students are still responsible for completing all coursework.
     
  3. DSS will send a Flexibility in Attendance/Assignments Agreement Form to the faculty member along with  guidance for completing the agreement form.  Any questions should be directed to DSS (815-921-2371). The faculty member and student should complete the agreement form collaboratively. Signatures from both the student and faculty member are required for the agreement form to be considered active. The faculty member should return the agreement to DSS within 3 business days.
     
  4. If the student has concerns or questions regarding what the faculty member has indicated in the agreement, DSS will resolve these issues collaboratively between the faculty member and student.
     
  5. DSS, the student, and the faculty member will all receive a copy of the agreement. 
     

Tip: A general rule to consider for determining a reasonable timeframe for a makeup or postponement of an assignment, paper, exam or quiz is the time equivalent to that, which was  missed. In certain courses, it may be appropriate to consider an alternative assignment, reading or project to make up for missed class discussions or projects. Other examples of how disability absences might be accommodated may include the ability to turn in assignment/papers late without a grade penalty or the ability to make up any assignments, quizzes or exams that have been missed without a grade penalty.

  • DSS will send the agreement to the student once it is received from the faculty member and approved by DSS.
     
  • If the student has concerns or questions regarding what the faculty has indicated in the agreement, DSS will resolve these issues with conversations between the faculty and/or student.
     
  • Once the agreement is sent to the student it will be considered active in three business   days if the student does not respond. If the student notifies DSS that they approve the agreement, it will be considered active immediately. DSS, the student, and the faculty member will all receive a copy of the agreement.
     

Important Information
 

  • This accommodation is not a blanket reason to miss class.
     
  • Some students register late in the term and some wait to respond to the need. In these cases, faculty is not expected to provide retroactive accommodations. However accommodation is still required, even at a late point in the term.
     
  • At no time is the student required to present the faculty member with medical documentation verifying their disability related absence for this accommodation.
     
  • Absences that are not related to the effects of a disability are not included in this accommodation (i.e., absences due to a common illness, car trouble, etc.) and should be addressed according to the syllabus stated attendance/absence requirement. The student is responsible for following the faculty member’s syllabus regarding absences due to non-disability related issues.
     
  • An accommodation in attendance is not reasonable if regular attendance is essential to the course and/or curriculum.
     
  • Faculty are not obligated to re-teach material missed due to not attending class.
     
  • Not every course component can be provided an extension.
     
  • Students have the responsibility for completing all class work and should be held to the same standards as all other students.