Extra time in exams - rules changing?

(122 Posts)
Sunhasgothishaton Mon 15-Jul-13 20:43:33

I've been told that getting extra time in exams is changing in September, and it will be a lot harder/tighter to get extra time.

My ds has dyslexia and has extra time. I was told unless he scores less than 85 on any of the standard scores he won't get the extra time but he scored 92.

Does anyone have any advice/info on this?

ukjess Sun 04-Aug-13 12:11:54

I welcome the changes- and I think it will make it fairer for all.

I know of past SENCOs and HoDs who were exasperated at the huge numbers suddenly needing Extra Time, laptops, scribes, readers and separate rooming.

Coupled with the old modular system, a straightforward exam became a circus with literally hundreds of arrangement permutations, the vast majority of which were unnecessary.

Copthallresident Tue 06-Aug-13 15:05:47

ukjess So you think that a child with reasoning ability in the top ten percent of the population but processing and working memory that works only at the level of the average person, and writing and reading speeds that are slower than 90 % of the population should not be allowed extra time, even though it clearly severely limits their ability to show what they are capable of in an exam, whilst a child with reasoning ability that is average and processing and working memory that isn't actually that much worse should? That the bright child should suffer disadvantage whilst the less able child gains advantage (under the old system it was the gap between ability and working memory, processing and speed that defined disability). Below average reasoning and processing scores are not a disadvantage for pupils who have below average reasoning ability, that is the level of processing and working memory you would predict someone of that level of ability to have.

The universities wouldn't agree with you, they want to recruit bright dyslexics, because they have strengths in creative and holistic thinking which mean they do very well in advanced level study, as well as having weaknesses. Once there they assess students for extra time and other support, according to the gap between their ability and their processing, working memory and speed. The problem in future will be how will universities assess whether a bright dyslexic pupil is worthy of a place? The exam system is going to disadvantage them.

I have no idea how you make connection between justifying that issue, which is the OPs problem, and all the other measures that are taken such as scribes, laptops etc which are put in place to ensure DCs with a range of disabilities are not discriminated against, as required by law, regardless of whether you think it makes the exam room a circus. That won't change. This is about just one group of pupils with a SpLDs being discriminated against.

The Department of Defence is currently completely changing it's working environments at Cheltenham because it has come to appreciate that it values bright Dyslexics and those with Autism who have particular strengths to bring to that line of work. Mean while the D of E, and if you are representative, schools are making the educational environment, and especially exam conditions, worse.

Your post though doesn't have a single shred of evidence to justify your argument, a bit like the Dof E these days.............

answers Tue 06-Aug-13 17:50:01

Hi... just scanned this so apologies if someone else has answered...
Using a WP does not need approval from the exam board ... if it is an usual way of working then that is acceptable ...
Extra time is more of an issue now than it used to be .. however if you have a clear history of need which can be evidenced then that works.... for example a mock assessment ... two colour pens ... change colour once time is up and give additional time ... how does that affect the grade etc....
Also evidence from staff about the pupil's usual way of working in class... how long it takes for them to get going....
A speed of writing test is also useful ...
Hoep this helps

camptownraces Tue 06-Aug-13 18:11:17

The regulations for Access Arrangements are revised every year. They tend to appear online, on JCQ's website, from early September. Schools seem to receive paper copies later the same month.

Two years ago there was a significant tightening of the criteria for permitting extra time. Before that there was a loosening of criteria for word processing, and a widening of conditions for a reader. Many other arrangements are now up to individual centres to arrange, and do not require prior approval.

Nobody knows yet what changes will come in this year. They may be slight, or major. We just have to wait and see.

ITCouldBeWorse Tue 06-Aug-13 18:23:39

Whilst there are very comprehensive and detailed guidelines for the entitlement to extra time, the jcq are very willing and helpful to consider applications with different supporting evidence and history of need. I have had several incidences where they have used discretion to give fair access to exams.

Copthallresident Tue 06-Aug-13 18:36:30

camptown and answers The problem is that the newly tightened up regulations introduced a couple of years ago have been implemented via the use of a cut off score for processing and working memory. When a candidates scores are entered into the computer system if those scores are average or above it will not accept them as eligible for extra time. OQUAL accepted this was discriminatory at the meeting I linked to below at which the Dyslexia charities and organisations representative of independent schools and Ed Psychs highlighted that this was unfair to bright Dyslexics, but they are under pressure from the D of E to reduce the numbers getting extra time, as well as those getting the top grades in exams. Another poster was told by their Ed Psych that the D of E representative actually said that students with SpLDs shouldn't be getting As......

When it looked as though my DD would fall foul of the new regulations because her processing was just in the average range, with weeks to go to AS exams and even though she had had extra time in her GCSEs we were advised by her school that we would submit all the evidence of need (including use of two coloured pens etc ) built up since she was in Year 5 plus her Ed Psych report but they couldn't know whether it would be accepted and her extra time approved, the process would be opaque. As it happens we will never know as we had the resources to get the report she will need for UCAS bought forward, and her processing scores were well below average on those tests, but I am sure many pupils will not have the school or parents with the resources to have pursued that. Especially if their SENCOs have the attitude manifested by ukjess who I hope isn't allowed anywhere near a school pupil.

Even so I had a DD who was completely panicked, she had done 4 essay subjects because that was where her talents and motivation lay and her teachers felt she could cope as long as she had extra time in the exams (since she works hard and excels in them outside the exam room) and with weeks to go she was threatened with having that time taken away, without even getting the time to develop coping strategies, let alone to have taken the lack of extra time into account in her A level choices. Disgusting frankly.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 06-Aug-13 18:56:42

She got the extra time though. My state educated DD1 didn't. Now, that's disgusting.

ukjess Tue 06-Aug-13 19:46:02

Its always a pity when those with different views get a tad nasty but I suppose this can be an emotive subject.

I have known a large number of Exam Officers, SENCOs and HTs in my time.

All of them have lamented the ballooning of extra arrangements as, apart from the time and staffing impact, was undermining students with genuine need and actually de-skilling some students with minor needs.

Yet all these people are talented, caring professionals.

You will be aware of the data showing the impact of TAs on residual performance?

You will be aware of the alleged SEN over diagnosis issue in schools?

You will be aware of the stories of students (particularly secondary students) deliberately performing badly in some assessments to get the extra privileges they desired?

I can provide an example I dealt with of 2 females students that demanded to have a separate exam room due to exam stress. When we said the only way we could do this was to have then securely supervised during the day and then to do the exam after school all of a sudden they decided they were not so stressed after all.

I once had a groups of students who were entitled to ET but the only we we could do it was to start them off earlier which meant they coudnt use the school bus and would have to get a very early train NOT A SINGE ONE did so- and yet they all finished the full exam.

As regard the disparity between different skill sets, its a difficult ethical and philosophical point. There are those that would argue that a History exam requires processing, memory, working under pressure, time management, decoding, lateral thinking, problem solving, reading, writing/typing, interpretation skills, subject skills and subject knowledge.

And if a kid gets a bad mark, not because of a lack of knowledge but because of a 'working memory issue', there are those that would say 'well thats part of the exam process- its the same for all.

Now I know the experts look at a variety of disparities to justify it being a disability but their judgments and formulae are arbitrary, even in consensus.

I think some the parents, with children who don't benefit from this type of approach could claim 'foul play' and would have basis for complaint. Perhaps its fortunate that the system is quite complex, subtle and controversial so goes over their heads for the most part.

Either way, agreeing disagree does not a villain make.

Copthallresident Tue 06-Aug-13 22:28:09

ukjess You have not given me the respect of responding to my precise point about the discriminatory nature of the current regulations. I am sorry if you feel I was a tad nasty, I certainly did not mean to be, but I think we all hope that those who teach our children will understand and be sensitive to the fact that some of us learn differently and need a little bit more support in a school system that is geared to a certain way of learning and demonstrating our ability in exam conditions

Some of the examples you give are of kids who are not motivated to have different arrangements that make life difficult for them. I am not defending it but is it really surprising? especially if they are not motivated in the first place? And they may not be motivated because the teaching methods have never worked for them. I have to tell my DDs again and again that their SpLDs are not an excuse

I am totally aware of the alleged issue of students allegedly doing badly in tests. As I know myself and my DD commented last time she sat them, done properly, processing and working memory teast are impossible to fool b i

Copthallresident Tue 06-Aug-13 22:43:09

Sorry, a bit of dyslexic posting!

As to speed tests, my dyslexic / dyspraxic DD genuinely cannot read and write faster than the lowest 10th percentile (with reasoning in the top tenth percentile) I watch her day to day and understand exactly how much harder it is for to show what she can do

Copthallresident Tue 06-Aug-13 22:48:13

And Russians I agree with you, but the problem is manifested by ukjess.

ukjess Tue 06-Aug-13 23:02:55

Hi Copthall Resident,
I think the last bit of your post got chopped off....

I did feel I dealt with the discriminatory aspect in quite some detail.
But to explain further, any system we evolve to level the playing field could be construed as discriminatory.

for example you alluded to the discrepancy values denoting a disability.
well what if your child's discrepancy is just below the threshold?
And who came up with 25% extra time?
And why dont kids with bigger discrepancies or other numerical markers have more than 25% ? Say 29%?
And does that mean that every other country with different models are discriminatory (because their governments would argue no)

I daresay you may have heard many a parent and teacher say let's just give everyone more time and be done with it!

An ex colleague of mine, a highly respected SENCO with decades of experience and has had advanced training on a wide variety of spectrum and SEN, invited me in for a few days at her school in
june 2011.

We observed 3 exams from the corridor in that period. I would say that almost 1 in 8 desks had a yellow card on it. you will know what that means. I asked her why and she said the parents in the school have gone mad applying for everything in sight. I asked her if she thought they were deserved and she estimated about 60% were unjustified in her professional opinion.

we attended the end of 2 exams and in one exam no student used their cards and in another a tiny handful did. The other I didn't see the end of.

You perhaps may characterise her as any number of things but this individual has fought for access arrangements on a national level and has taken up individual cases in her school using expert witnesses and diverse documentation to aide the child's appeal.

but she thinks things have gone way too far and she's not the only one.

And the really deserving cases, which might encompass your child, are not served by that situation.

I will admit that I have only heard rumours about the cheating thing- if you are saying that have a variance logarithm to weed out cheaters then fair enough, I shan't quibble with that.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 06-Aug-13 23:33:15

Things might have gone way too far. I certainly get very ....tired....of self diagnosing people and parents. Your child might be a bit clumsy or have poor handwriting. That is a world away from being dyspraxic as true dyspraxic people and/or parents will know. Because to be brutally honest, not being able to hold a pen properly is the least of our worries. It really is. sad However the way to fix things is not to hammer the most intelligent kids and let the ones who might actually just not really be very clever continue to get the help that was designed for kids like mine and copthall's.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 06-Aug-13 23:33:55

I don't think copthall was even a tad nasty. I thought she was quite restrained in the circs.

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 00:12:38

Oh a couple of comments were personal and nasty.
Para 2 in her 2nd reply to me for example.

I'm sure you wouldn't relish someone declaring that you should be 'nowhere near a pupil.'
But its no biggie - sometimes these debates can get a little heated.

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 00:19:41

And whilst I recognise the self diagnosing parent you describe very well, do you appreciate that they feel very differently on the issue.

They would feel most aggrieved at the suggestion their child is not clever and that they should not qualify for extra help.

It's an emotive and difficult issue no question, but demonising different camps tends not to be fruitful.

cornypepper Wed 07-Aug-13 00:21:18

ukjess you are obviously not qualified to assess for access arrangements so your opinion is irrelevant.
HTH

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 07-Aug-13 00:32:19

Oh they really weren't. And I completely agree with her evaluation.

NoComet Wed 07-Aug-13 00:59:40

I feel very sorry for the staff, but it is not DD1's fault that some utter idiot came up with modular exams and CAs. She takes her hat off to English, in particular, for managing to give her her extra time for CAs when it's really awkward.

She'd way rather be free to sing and go to Rangers without having to juggle Drama CAs, real core science exams, geography mocks, a school concert, a church concert and her grade 5 singing exam pretty much all at once, in Y10.

She'd love all the stress neatly at the end of Y11 when everyone expects DCs to say no to extra curricular stuff.

As for SLD DCs not getting As, I'm dyslexic and I have 9 (all my O'levels and A'level biology. Ok I'm much less dyslexic than DD1 and the WJEC fortunately didn't give a flying fig about spelling, but still.

Hopefully DD1 will get an A for science and possibly maths, the rest I honestly don't know.

kitchendiner Wed 07-Aug-13 08:19:21

DS is another bright dyslexic who might be in danger of scoring above cut offs. According to Ed Psych he is potentially Oxbridge material. He is currently (Yr 9) looking at GCSE grade Cs and Ds rather than As and A*s. He needs the extra time to re-read the question several times - he makes subtle mistakes but will never qualify for a reader and nor would I want him to - he needs to be as independent as possible. He also needs to proofread, spellcheck, amend and re-read his work many many times and he will need the extra time for this. These are extra skills that actually take up as much time as the initial work - actually, even longer. When he finishes a piece of work, he is only half way there. He may qualify for a scribe but it would be much much better for his independence if he can use a laptop (which he will be able to). He will immediately be 5% down on any exam that marks the SPaG. There is the possibility that using a scribe is the way for him to truly show off his knowledge and ability but this would be the least favourable option - we won't be doing him any favours by not teaching him the skills of being independent.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 07-Aug-13 08:54:46

starball I'm dyspraxic and I got 10 As for my O levels. In the days of norm referencing. Of course it's not impossible, for the brightest kids with SEN conditions. But at a meeting earlier this year my kids' Ed psych reckons she was told clearly that 'kids like that' (dyspraxic kids - who face far more problems in exams than dyslexic kids) 'shouldn't' be getting A*s because those grades weren't meant for kids like them. angry I wasn't there of course so I don't know if this was a direct quote or a paraphrase.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 07-Aug-13 08:57:39

starball Oh - and I got 4 for my A levels as well. But you know what? I'd like my kids to not have to go through the experiences I went through when at school. I'd like them to be playing on a level playing field with other kids of the same ability. I know that will give them an advantage over non SEN kids with less ability but since the non SEN kids with the same ability have that advantage, I think that's fair enough. Exams should be about intellectual ability not physical and neurological disability.

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 09:05:24

Pepper- so you are saying only people with a full qualification to assess AA can be involved in this debate? So this eliminates non qualified children, parents and teachers from having an opinion? Gosh you are very exclusive.

Russian- well Im afraid they most certainly were. An insult by any standard. And if you can't accept that it rather colours your ability to evaluate anything else does it not?

Bunny- Couldnt agree more. CAs, but especially modular exams, have been a cynical profit spinner for the exam boards for years. Its ruined the calendars for schools and increased stress for kids. Its also allowed a degree of cheating too- the CAs I mean.

Diner- I wish I could spread your message of independence to every parent in the land. You have done your child a massive favour there imo- hope his GCSEs work out well.

ukjess Wed 07-Aug-13 09:09:04

starball-
how do you think you were able to overcome your disadvantages ?

10 As at O-level is a real achievement.
Are there any strategies you could pass on?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 07-Aug-13 09:19:04

ukjess If an evaluation is accurate - as it was - then it's not an insult. It's just reportage. Since your view of your own comments/attitude is so skewed you can hardly expect anyone to place any credence on anything you say.

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