November 21st, 2008


AQA need a kicking

Oh dear. This was the exam that two of my students sat today. They're both reasonably dyslexic and one has problems with his attention too. R will probably have coped: although her spelling and punctuation are both eclectic, she can write clear and coherent answers to questions. O will probably have gone into a frothing panic because he finds the vocabulary in science hard to deal with at the best of times, and really needs the multiple choice aspect in order to show what he's capable of. (He's one of these kids who can give me mostly sensible answers to questions that I ask him orally, and can even give mostly reasonable answers orally to questions that he reads; but if he has to both read the question AND write an answer down, something goes wrong in his brain and the answer comes out all wrong.)

How can the exam board insist that "Students will not be disadvantaged by the error"? What they mean is that they'll shuffle down the grade boundaries by a few points to compensate for the mistake, but this is only fair for average students with no special needs. For anyone who has a special need - be it dyslexia or specific learning disability, or an anxiety disorder such as severe exam stress, or people on the autistic spectrum who are greatly upset by changes in routine, or the visually impaired who rely on the exam paper having a particular format - this mistake could cause a loss of more than a couple of marks.

I only hope that O got to do his Biology 1b exam before the Physics 1a, so the mess-up with P1a didn't affect his ability to do B1b.