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How to Raise Literacy Attainment at National 3 and 4

by Paul Nisbet

on Mon Mar 03, 2014

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Literacy is a mandatory Unit for all learners at National 3 and 4 and assessment covers the skills of reading, writing, talking and listening. Where reading is being explicitly assessed, the use of human reader is not permitted, and similarly, where writing is being assessed, a scribe cannot be used. Many learners with additional support needs have difficulties with reading or accessing text, and with writing and recording, and so to enable these learnerws to achieve the literacy standards, ICT and assistive technology can be used in the literacy assessment.

For example, a learner with a visual impairment might read the assessment text on screen with magnification; while a learner with dyslexia could use text-to-speech to read the text and a spellchecker or word predictor for the writing assessment. There is more information on how on our web pages on using ICT for literacy assessment.

We know that many learners with additional support needs or disabilities have difficulty with reading or writing and so some learners will not be able to achieve the literacy standards at National 3 and 4 without support.

However, research and experience tells us that assistive technologies can help learners with, for example, dyslexia or literacy difficulties to read and understand text at a higher level than they can manage when reading unsupported, and that supportive writing tools can enable learners to produce longer and more accurate pieces of work.

Therefore, by providing ICT (and by teaching learners how to use it), schools should be able to raise their overall levels of literacy attainment at National 3 and 4. By using ICT, learners who might not achieve the standard will be able to do so: conversely, if you don’t get your ICT and assistive technology organised, your school’s attainment levels at National 3 and 4 will almost certainly be lower than they would be if you made good effective use of ICT.

Here’s a very good example from Peter Graham at Denny High School. Peter was presenting at one of our recent courses and described a 6th year pupil with severe reading difficulties who is now using a netbook with text-to-speech software (Ivona MiniReader) to great effect. Peter thought it would be interesting to compare her reading ability with and without the text-to-speech and so carried out an assessment using the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability.

Reading by herself, the pupil scored 6 years 2 months for accuracy and 6 years 9 months for comprehension. With MiniReader, her comprehension score was over 13 years (measuring accuracy is not appropriate with text-to-speech).

Without ICT, this learner would almost certainly fail the reading assessment at National 3 or 4; with ICT, she would almost certainly pass it.

By using ICT, more learners in your school will achieve the literacy standard and you will raise your overall attainment (not to mention giving the young people a massively important life skill and a means of reading and accessing the curriculum independently).

Tags: curriculum for excellence

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