Alternative assessment arrangements (AAAs) when these are recommended by Equitable Learning Services instruction

Instruction statement

Alternative Assessment Arrangements are a type of Equitable Assessment Arrangement requiring consultation between the student, program and Equitable Learning Services.

Key concepts:

  • Reasonable Adjustment

An adjustment is deemed to be ‘reasonable’ if it balances the needs of all parties concerned: the student with a disability, long-term illness and/or mental health condition, the University, academic/teaching staff and other students.

  • Inherent Requirement

The inherent or essential requirements are those students must fulfil in order to complete a course/unit/program. ‘They are those components which if removed or substituted would substantially impact on the learning outcomes’ (definition from the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training website as of 19 May 2012). Determining inherent requirements of a course may be difficult. It is only when these are clearly defined, however, that we can address questions about whether adjustments can be made to meet the needs of individual students.



Process Step/Action


Time Frame

1. Meeting with program director and/or course coordinator

1.1 Once a student requiring alternative assessment arrangements (AAAs) is registered Equitable Learning Services (ELS), a disability advisor will notify the program manager and/or course coordinator that a meeting between the School (program manager or other delegated senior staff member) and the student should be arranged. Discussion should centre on AAAs which may be appropriate to the student’s needs while not compromising the academic integrity of the course/program: e.g., a student may perform better in an oral presentation of their knowledge as opposed to a written test/exam.

1.2 Students should be encouraged where possible to register with the ELS before or as early as possible in their first semester, so that AAA meetings can occur before census date. Due to the potential complexity of AAAs it is critical that there is consultation between the student and academic/teaching staff to determine the best AAAs for the student. It is recommended that the meeting take place before census date in the event that it is decided after careful consideration that no AAAs are possible. In such circumstances the student may be able to examine more appropriate program choices. Disability advisors of the ELS are available for the student and/or staff to consult about this process, and may attend the meeting if requested.

Program manager, course coordinator, student

2. Before the meeting

2.1 Before the meeting, academic/teaching staff need to be clear on the inherent requirements of the course/program in question and the concept of ‘reasonableness’ in determining whether it is in fact possible to construct an alternative to the original form of assessment.

2.2 At AAA meetings the following questions should be canvassed:

  • What are the essential, important and optional learning outcomes for the course and/or program?
  • What skills/abilities/knowledge must the student demonstrate to complete the course and/or program successfully?
  • Is an external registration authority involved such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, Victorian Institute of Teaching, etc? If so, how do the registration authority’s requirements contribute to the discussion of learning outcomes and how these must be demonstrated?
  • Is the instruction/assessment task(s) the only way that the required skills/knowledge/abilities can be acquired or imparted?

3. Documentation and notification

3.1 If an AAA is identified, academic/teaching staff should document the rationale behind the agreed AAA and seek dean/head of school approval. Once approved, it should be communicated to the disability advisor and the student for implementation. If appropriate the AAA should also be considered for subsequent courses. In this event, the disability advisor will contact course co-ordinators each semester to confirm.

3.2 If an AAA is not possible the school should articulate the inherent requirements of the course clearly and explain why each recommended AAA is not appropriate. The school also needs to outline why the preferred assessment task is the most effective. Academic/teaching staff should clearly document their rationale, which must be approved by the Dean/Head of School and formally endorsed by the Manager, Disability Services in order to formalise this position as a position of the University.

3.3 If the student is not satisfied with the outcome, they should refer to section 2 of the Assessment: adjustments to assessment procedure for their right of appeal against the outcome of an application for an equitable assessment arrangement, and the process for appeals.

3.4 Where an AAA is not possible, academic counselling should be provided to the student, as early as possible, to assist them with making informed decisions about other more suitable program options, if required.

Deputy Dean/Head, Learning and Teaching

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