The Telegraph is reporting that examiners are to crack down on the number of pupils given extra time in GCSEs amid fears schools may be “playing the system” to boost results…
From September, all schools will be required to provide additional evidence that pupils qualify for special privileges that result in tests being lengthened by as much as a quarter.
Currently, teenagers are able to claim up to 25 per cent extra time if they have dyslexia or other medical conditions, disabilities and injuries that impair their ability to read and write properly.
The rules are in place to ensure that exams are “fair and accessible” for all pupils irrespective of their needs.
But the official exams watchdog fears that the system may be abused by some schools in an attempt to get more time for pupils who lag behind without displaying any medical problems.
Latest figures show that 123,248 pupils sat lengthened exams last summer, up from 117,169 a year earlier and 109,773 in 2010.
Some 96 per cent of requests from schools for extra time last year were approved by exam boards, it emerged.
Ofqual, the qualifications regulator for England, wrote to examiners last autumn asking them to review procedures surrounding extra time amid concerns it may be “given to candidates to help them improve their grades rather than to address a significant disadvantage”.
The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents major exam boards, is now tackling the problem by introducing new guidance for schools.
The disclosure is made just a day before around 600,000 children across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results.
The guidelines – applied from next month – say that:
• All schools requesting extra time must submit a formal statement confirming that children have special educational needs or bring in an independent assessor to screen pupils for certain learning difficulties;
• The assessment of pupils should include a “standardised test” covering reading, writing and cognitive ability to prove that their speed of work is hampered by a disability;
• Extra time will not be granted if literacy problems are caused by pupils speaking English as a second language;
• Students awarded extra time in GCSEs must be subjected to a new assessment before being granted the same special privileges in A-levels.
In the past, many pupils were able to secure extra time on the back of reports from educational psychologists hired by the school without external checks.
Your thoughts on these changes? Has the system been abused in the past? Please share in the comments or on twitter…