Letter to the Editor: Inner workings of Extra Time

Devin Hirsch

When I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in 2018, I was really scared about what would come next. The journey to get help was long and incredibly difficult, but I know I am finally getting the support I need, which includes accommodations on tests and quizzes. Reflecting on my own experiences, I was both disappointed and frustrated to read last week’s article, regarding extra time in The Record. At its core, the article seems built on the premise that anxiety and learning differences are somehow advantageous. This naive and simple viewpoint caused me so much heartache and made me feel attacked. In my opinion, extra time is not an advantage; it simply puts me (and others who have it) on a level playing field and gives us an equal opportunity to succeed. I am concerned that the article underrepresents the vast majority of students who have extra time and use it effectively. Instead, it chooses to focus on this idea that some people with extra time don’t need it, which is a viewpoint that is hardly worthy of publication in a school-wide newspaper. There are many, many more people than not who have extra time because they need it; not everyone who has extra time is a cheater or paying for undeserved extra time. If the goal of the article was to exonerate the stigma and increase understanding, I felt it accomplished the opposite.
I could argue each of the attacks on students with accommodations point-by-point, but let’s just look at one as an example of the faulty logic the article is built upon: There were some quotations which suggested that because there are people who take the entire time and a half to complete a test or quiz, they shouldn’t get that much time. Well, I will counteract that argument by pointing out that not everyone with standard time uses the alloted time to finish their assessments either, so should those who finish early be
granted less time? Of course not. Obviously, the amount of time it takes someone to finish an assessment partially depends on the assessment itself. Furthermore, just because someone with extra time finishes in under time and a half on one test does not mean that happens on every test. I wish the writers and editors of The Record had done more to fully consider positions like these before allowing students wage attacks on extra time. I also wish they had reached out to more sources to set the record straight. Only then, could we have greater appreciation of each other’s learning experiences.
One of our core values is mutual respect, so why can’t we respect each other’s differences?