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A spanner in the works: the portrayal of disabled students in assessment adjustment research

In scholarly research, disabilities are predominantly understood as something that obscures assessment rather than enriches it. This study examines how research on assessment adjustments (e.g. extra time in tests) portrays disabled students, and how this area of research plays a role in constructing an image of ‘the ideal student’ and its shadow, the ‘non-ideal student’. A critical review in conducted to analyse how 26 assessment adjustment studies portray their object, disabled students, as being ontologically different from normal and ideal students. The ‘disabled examinee’ is portrayed as ‘a spanner in the works’ that endangers the objectivity of the assessment systems in higher education. Disabled students are framed as ‘Others’ who pose a danger for academic standards and integrity: assessment adjustments are thus seen as safeguarding academia from this danger. (September 2022)