Guidelines And Procedures For The Provision Of Alternative Arrangements In Tests And Examinations To Students With Disability/Impairment

On Thursday 8 December 2016, the completed Guidelines were presented to the ACHIEVE membership at AUT, Auckland. This comprehensive stocktake report of alternative assessment policies will be of value to multiple stakeholders, including policy practitioners and those involved in advocating for students with impairments.


ACHIEVE, The National Post-Secondary Education Disability Network Incorporated and Ako Aotearoa co-funded research into current provision of extra time in alternative arrangements. 

The National Survey of Alternative Assessment Arrangements Policy and Practice in Tertiary Education (2015) reported that 82% of respondent Tertiary Education Institutes (TEIs) use a standard in allocating extra time in tests and examinations and 18% use a case-by-case approach. 

When asked how ACHIEVE could work towards clarification on policy, provision and practice, respondents suggested national guidelines for consistent provision across institutions while enabling TEIs to develop their own policy and practice. 

Based on the research findings, ACHIEVE set up a working subgroup to compile standardised guidelines and procedures for the provision of alternative arrangements in tests and examinations. 

The new guidelines present current best practice intended to guide the implementation of consistent provision of alternative arrangements.

This comprehensive stocktake report of alternative assessment policies (available for download below) will be of value to multiple stakeholders, including policy practitioners and those involved in advocating for students with impairments.

About the project

New Zealand’s 29 tertiary education institutions (TEIs) are mandated in the Education Act 1989 to provide access to education guaranteeing equal educational opportunities to students with impairments who enrol for academic study in public providers, in 2013, the number of students with impairments rose to 5% of all students.

This study, undertaken on behalf of ACHIEVE, The National Post-Secondary Education Disability Network Incorporated surveyed and compared policy and practice of alternative assessment arrangements to accommodate diverse needs for extra time in examinations and tests for students with impairments in tertiary education institutions in New Zealand.

The findings illustrate how alternative assessment arrangements for accessing, allocating and evaluating extra time supports are provided in the 28 TEIs that set examinations as a mode of assessing student achievement of learning outcomes. The only residential, Māori-medium, iwi-wānanga in New Zealand does not set examinations as a mode of assessment. The findings are compared in order to present an overview of current practice.

Of the 28 institutions surveyed, all offer extra time supports either on a case-by-case basis (18%) or by allocating a standard with flexibility on an individual basis (82%). The provision of a support for pacing in assessment shows a strong commitment to reducing barriers encountered by tertiary students with impairments.

Four international exemplars of policy and/or guidelines on extra time supports that use standard amounts of extra time allocation offer the same standard amounts of extra time as the majority of New Zealand TEIs.


  • That further research engage with Māori support services staff in wānanga by using collaborative hui so that current provision is fully illustrated.
  • Setting a national standard following the Irish consensus of a time allowance of 10 minutes per hour of examination or test developed by the Disabled Advisors Working Network (DAWN) involving 21 member institutions.
  • That further work in this area be undertaken with PTEs.


Implementation of a standard in alternative examination arrangements rests on the sustainable capacity of the TEIs throughout the sector to mobilise knowledge of teaching, learning and assessment accommodation without focusing on students with impairments themselves. It is up tertiary institutions to engage students with a range of impairments at the levels of policy and governance while institutions expand the capacity to embed disability access, equity and inclusion throughout their educational environments.

Project team

  • Marg Dobson - ACHIEVE
  • Melissa Lethaby - ACHIEVE
  • Rachel ‘Aluesi - ACHIEVE
  • Martha G. Bell - Independent researcher

Download the full comprehensive report

Download the guidelines & procedures

Download the guidelines poster (A3)

Download the guidelines & procedures poster (A3)


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