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SQA Publish Information on Assessment Arrangements for the 2019 Diet

by Paul Nisbet

on Mon Mar 02, 2020

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SQA have published information on the number of requests for Assessment Arrangements in last year's external examinations. It gives an indication of the methods of support that candidates with disabilities or additional support needs are asking to use in exams.

The breakdown of requests for different types of Assessment Arrangement is in the table below but it's important to view these numbers with some caution because SQA caution that the numbers are not validated. For example, centres may request permission to use several methods of support in an examination, some of which may be for contingency; while the arrangements requested may not actually be used in the examination on the day. Therefore, SQA note that: 

"the information presented should be viewed as summary information that provides minimal insight." 

Nevertheless, the information is I believe still interesting to consider.

The number of requests for assessment arrangements and the number of candidates for whom arrangements are requested increased between 2018 and 2019, by 10% and 9% respectively.

 

 

2017/18

2018/19

Number of candidates

18,273

20,159

Number of requests

57,198

62,506

 

Extra Time and Separate Accommodation are the most commonly requested arrangements, followed by use of ICT by candidates to type up or answer questions (16,726 requests in total). The number of requests to use a word processor with spellcheck are almost twice the number of  word processor without spellcheck.

Requests for Digital Question Papers (DQP) increased by 5%, to 6,014. The use of human support in the form of readers, scribes and prompter/practical helper continues and the fact that almost 10,000 requests for a human reader were made, compared to just over 6,000 for a DQP makes me ponder. Although we suspect that many centres request a human reader as contingency when asking for a DQP with a computer reader, 10,000 seems to me to be quite a large number and I do wonder how many of these candidates might be able to use the more independent option of a computer reader with digital paper. It would be interesting to carry out some research in schools to find out what candidates do actually use, when it comes to assessment arrangements. 

 

Assessment arrangements requested:

2017/18

2018/19

% Difference

Extra time

44,111

46,920

6%

Separate accommodation

35,098

39,045

11%

ICT with word processor with spellchecker

10,118

10,852

7%

Reader

9,342

9,884

6%

Digital question paper

5,715

6,014

5%

ICT with word processor without spellchecker

5,179

5,874

13%

Scribe

5,715

5,818

2%

Coloured Paper

2,964

4,071

37%

Rest period(s)

2,716

3,078

13%

Prompter

2,173

2,302

6%

Supervised break(s)

1,616

1,918

19%

Enlarged print

1,059

1,309

24%

Transcription with correction

662

566

-15%

Non standard paper size

445

525

18%

Modified content

389

451

16%

Non standard paper font

246

388

58%

Transcription without correction

334

375

12%

ICT with handheld spellchecker

284

306

8%

Calculator

248

298

20%

Enlarged certificate

53

42

-21%

Non standard paper orientation

42

36

-14%

Signed to candidate

48

36

-25%

Braille

27

34

26%

Referral to Principal Assessor

52

34

-35%

Braille certificate

25

30

20%

Candidate signs

32

21

-34%

Live presentation

38

21

-45%

Total

128,731

140,248

9%

Any other arrangement(s)

1,557

1,872

20%

 
I have been collecting the number of requests for Assessment Arrangements since 2008, when SQA first started offering Digital Question Papers, primarily to monitor the uptake of support methods using digital technology. However, the latest numbers cannot be compared with previous years because they do not include requests that were subsequently withdrawn, which were included in the earlier figures. In addition, the categories in the table above differ from previous figures and so cannot be directly compared.  
 

Notes and caveats from SQA regarding this information

The system used to collect such data was not designed for statistical reporting purposes, and as a consequence, any reporting of such data should be viewed accordingly and presented alongside the appropriate data caveats.

The discrete list of options presented to centres do not contain all the options available to them.  For example, a number of adjustments may be requested from the options presented alongside a request for adjustments which are not detailed in any of the discrete options (in the form of a free text field).  This ensures candidates receive the adjustments appropriate to their circumstances but makes reporting challenging. 

No free text fields have been recorded in the reporting data due to the associated data protection issues (as these fields can contain sensitive personal information).  This means that some information on the assessment arrangements requested by a number of candidates is simply reported as ‘any other arrangement’.

Centres often submit multiple assessment arrangements within each subject/level request and also include contingency arrangements.  Candidates may choose not to use the requested arrangements for their assessment or to sit the assessment.  SQA do not hold information on whether assessments arrangements requested are used.

Finally, requests for assessment arrangements are made at the subject / qualification level rather than at component level. For example, a request for coloured paper in a Higher modern language qualification may be used for any (or all) of the components that involve a written assessment (‘examination paper’), but is unlikely to be required for a talking assessment component.  The data recorded by SQA does not allow identification of the number of assessment components where each assessment arrangement request was used.

All of the above points combined mean that the information presented should be viewed as summary information that provides minimal insight.

Tags: examinations, readers, sqa, assessment arrangements

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