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Spellcheckers and Digital Papers

by Paul Nisbet

on Mon Nov 23, 2009

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Staff, parents and pupils often ask us for advice on whether a spellchecker can be used with an SQA Adapted Digital Paper, so this is what we think is the situation. If you are in any doubt, contact the SQA Assessment Arrangements team.

Question. Can I use a spellchecker in the examination?

Answer: SQA’s policy is that "all software such as spellchecks, predictive software etc, must be disabled, unless it has been approved by SQA." [1]

If your candidate is eligible and wants to use a spellchecker (or any other technique that may help the candidate with spelling, like word prediction or speech recognition), you must request it using the standard Assessment Arrangements Request system. Use of a spellchecker is regarded as a type of Assessment Arrangement.

Spellcheckers should only be requested for candidates who have a particular spelling difficulty due to, for example, dyslexia, and where their poor spelling is likely to impact on their ability to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. Spellcheckers can be requested for candidates who "potentially have the ability to achieve the national standards" , but are "unable to do so using the published assessment arrangements". [2] A candidate who does not have an identified difficulty with spelling should not use a spellchecker. You will of course need to have evidence that the candidate’s spelling difficulty means they cannot demonstrate their skills and knowledge in the examination, and why and how a spellchecker should help. A spellchecker should not be requested if it won’t help the candidate, or if it will give the candidate an unfair advantage over other pupils sitting the examination.

You can request to use a spellchecker in almost all subjects apart from the writing papers in Modern Languages and , Gaelic (Learners) and Gŗidhlig. The Writing papers for these subjects assess spelling and so spellcheckers are not allowed for any candidate.

Question. So how do I disable the spellchecker in Adobe Reader when I use an Adapted Digital Paper?

Answer:

  • Open Adobe Reader, click Edit > Preferences
  • click Spelling in the list at the left, and then untick Check Spelling while Typing

Mis-spelled words in the answer boxes will no longer be marked with a red wavy line. From 2010, SQA will supply two versions of each Adapted Digital Paper: one version will let the candidate use the Adobe Reader spellchecker, and the other won't (even if you have the spellchecker turned on, it won’t work in the answer box). The presenting centre has responsibility for loading the correct version of the paper on the computer, i.e. make sure the spellcheck-enabled paper is only given to candidates who have permission to use it.

Tags: digital exams, spellchecker

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