Starting next academic year, admissions officers for graduate and management programs will have no way of distinguishing between students who complete the required standardized tests on time and those who use a few extra hours.

The Educational Testing Services, the nation’s leading standardized testing organization, announced Feb. 7 it will no longer be “flagging,” or denoting when students with disabilities are given extra time or special conditions to complete tests. The decision will be in effect as of Oct. 1, 2001 for Graduate Record Examinations, the Graduate Management Admission Test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Praxis results.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, has not made a similar policy change, but now will explore the possibility. The group has agreed to let a panel of experts on disabilities and admissions make recommendations contingent on the effects of the initial policy change.

The ETS decision settled the 1999 lawsuit when Mark Breimhorst, an individual with a disability, sued ETS for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and similar laws. ETS denied Breimhorst’s allegation, maintaining the agency only used flagging to indicate that tests were taken under nonstandard conditions.

Philip Jones, director of Undergraduate Career Services, said the policy change should not affect students applying to graduate schools, but that the new rules are positive.

“I don’t think it should change the graduate school admission process at all,” Jones said. “Graduate schools know that they are not allowed to discriminate, so the new policy should not affect them in any way.”

Jones said ETS ensures that students who take extra time for the test are entitled to such benefits. To receive extra time, individuals must go through a complicated petitioning process and present legal documentation.