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Extra time for dyslexic students - is it fair?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by eyeofmyapple, May 24, 2011.

  1. As someone who employs graduates, I get really annoyed by the idea that somehow, the time restraints of exams do not reflect a requirement in the work place. If someone takes 25% greater time to complete a task as someone else, they cost 25% extra to employ. Yes, they may get there in the end, but that is just too late (that is in general and not just due to dyslexia).
    All candidates should be given the same time, or it should be indicated on a qualification that extra onsiderations were given. I think this also gives the candidates a false sense of 'entitlement'; they may expect the same dispensations in the work place and that ain't going to happen.
    The purpose of a qualification (as opposed to an education) is to enable either educators or employers to understand the level of ability of a prospective student or employee; for them to have credibility they need to have the same baseline We give our graduate applicants a timed test to ascertain their knowledge and their ability to apply it under pressure, no allowances made.
  2. Because completing tasks within time constraints is also a skill.
    What makes you think that skilled employment is any different?
    The problem is that there are enough candidates that don't struggle; how are they differenciated, if not by equal consideration?
  3. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    I can see this from both points of views:
    As a dyslexia assessor - I know that extra time, a reader/ scribe and other access arrangements such as rest breaks,separate room, laptop, coloured overlays international English/? dictionary etc. are essential to ensure that a student with a disability is not disadvantaged.
    I have spoken with my colleagues before about the constraints of time on an exam. I think perhaps it would make sense to give everyone the extra time as it is costly to administer these arrangements and many students end up never using it.
    I can also see things from an employer's point of view.
    I have had this discussion with several of my colleague who are lecturers with their own businesses and their concerns are very similar to cheddar george's - these students have to cope in the workplace , often without concessions especially if they work for a small employer.
    I always acknowledge that they have a point but also say that these days there is so much technology out there to help that it isn't always vital to be able to spell a technical term i.e. if you are a chef and you need to write up the menus ....you just check on the internet for the correct spelling or even on the dictionary on your mobile.
    Of course, many large organizations (and I'm sure small ones as well) take on board the need to make sure that discrimination does not take place against people with disabilities such as dyslexia.
    I know the lecturers I work with have come round to making certain concessions available such as alternative ways of testing knowledge such as video ,verbally and through the use of a scribe or even totally different ways of assessing which allow a student to show their knowledge but not in the traditional pen and paper way. What are we testing - speed, spelling /reading accuracy or knowledge and understanding? Apart from English language exams, I would say the latter.
  4. Then you are doing not only your applicants but your organisation a dis-service. You have obviously failed to read my reply very closely and see what the dyslexics I have experience of have acheived. Getting a First at University is not a matter of 25% extra time and a voice recorder, it takes brains and application. Running your own very successful business for 30 years despite not even reliably being able to spell your own name takes astonishing hard work and courage (and two secretaries). People with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities are often extremely good at working out strategies to cope with their difficulties. This means they are often very good in a workplace, more equipped to deal with everyday difficulties in fact. As to a sense of entitlement there is nothing worse as a Uni lecturer than facing a room full of normal middle class grammar school kids, you can cut the entitlement in there with a knife.Give me a bunch of people who have had to struggle to get there any day!
    All you are saying in your reply is that you can't be bothered to adjust your testing and that you think dyslexia is not real. That is what lies at the heart of what you say. Otherwise your inference that a dyslexic can't cope in the workplace would have to be applied to someone who was say..partially sighted...or suffered from mild cerebral palsy..it is exactly the same argument. Of course you can't say that, not because you don't believe it neccessarily, but you are obviously aware that that would be disability discrimination.
    Finally, perhaps I should point out that I am a career changer myself, and I do know what its like out there. I spent 10 years working in IT. I have been an employer and a recruiter. I often had to correct the English of some of my "techies"; these days I realise that many of them had varying degrees of literacy issues and at least two of them must have been ASD. I didn't mind correcting their reports and network diagrams - why? They made me more money than I could carry home in a rucksack daily, their designs were brilliant and our clients loved them.
    Employers, decent ones anyway, realise that they employ individuals. You need different types of people to make up a successful team dynamic, and some people take a fair amount of input but sometimes they are really worth the effort. Employers who just want perfection right out of the mould just have no interest in training or developing their own staff.
    Unless a graduate applicant is going to spend their time with you doing timed writing tasks with no access to any specialist kit that they might normally buy for themselves then you aren't testing anything
  5. Then the question has got to be asked; if you can get a first, and the extra 25% has nothing to do with it, why do you need the extra time? Surely a 2:1 or 2:2 would be more indicative of attainment?
    So the disability is no longer a problem then; I have a 'weakness' writing aurally received information, I've learnt to deal with it.
    More equiped than who? So the disabled are actually more able than the able (?)
    I prefer to judge people on their individual merits, in absolute, rather than relative terms.
    Different disabilities provide different challenges, for different careers (obvious, I know).
    We do have a couple of wheel bound employees, and 'concessions' to access, higher tables etc are not an issue. However, for a prospective blind employee there are no adaptations currently available that would enable them to be effective in most roles.
    Being IT based, there is no concern as to spelling ability, as long as a report/set of calcs can be structured and a spell check completed (though grammer is important). Dyscalculia, however, would be a major issue.
    So your disability hasn't held you back then, or do you think you would have been a world leader given the extra time?

    Our selection process has been developed over a 30+ year period to identify candidates with both the aptitude and attitude to keep up with the severe learning curve they will experience, compared with the usual post graduate qualifications they apply with. The tests are designed to demonstrate their ability to apply the theory they should have learnt, and have access to standard refererence texts during the test. If they are unable to cope with that, experience shows they will struggle with the development programme.
    I don't want to disabuse of the notion that somehow graduates leave uni with anything other than the potential to be useful, but we assume that a new graduate doesn't start to earn us any money for 3 to 5 years, and invest a lot of resources in their training.
    As an aside, due to the intensive mathematical content of some of our roles, I suspect we have a higher than usual incidence of people with aspergers type personality traits, and I am more than happy to accomodate their foibles.
  6. Been watching this post, my first thought is still the same...........Life isn't fair, get over it!
  7. mathewlsgeorge

    mathewlsgeorge New commenter

    I don't mind taking extra time for dyslexia students.It helps them to acquire new skills and knowledge iam specialized in training dyslexia students and special education student.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our
    Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  8. Joy1959

    Joy1959 New commenter

    There are regulations in place to ensure that only those who have cognitive processing and/or reading/writing speeds that fall in the below average range are entitled to extra time. In the "olden" days people with dyslexia did automatically get it but that stopped some years ago. I worry more about some schools who apply for extra time for their pupils then teach them to touch type and give them a word processor (you don't need to apply for the use of a word processor) or those who simply do not assess with integrity and award reader, scribe, rest breaks, scribe. Access Arrangements should not give an advantage.
  9. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Firstly, your comments show that you do not understand what dyslexia is; dyslexia does not mean that you are just slow at reading and writing, it is a neurological condition that affects the ability to process information. That might be processing written or aural information, and the ability to process will differ according to the individual.

    Secondly, you are either capable of achieving a 1st class degree, or you aren't. For people who have a problem processing information, but are capable of achieving a 1st because they possess the intelligence/creativity/understanding to do so, why should they not have extra time to allow them to meet their potential? Stephen Hawking - look at what he has achieved, and will continue to achieve in the future - do you think that someone with a brain like that should be written off because their disability requires them to have extra time to do something? Although his disability did not start until after his BA, had it started earlier and affected his studies the difference between a 1st and a 2:1 would have had an impact on where he studied his doctorate, and therefore what he went on to do with his life, and our understanding of the universe. Also, just because you are given 25% more time to complete an exam doesn't mean you need 25% more time to complete every other life or work task.

    Thirdly, as teachers we give extra support to students who need it in order to level the playing field. I don't believe that access arrangements in general give an advantage, although I'm sure there are some schools who would happily lie and cheat to increase their GCSE outcomes.

    Fourthly, yes, I would say that disabled people can be more able than non-disabled people. Paralympics, for example? I couldn't do what they do. Can blind people have a heightened sense of hearing to compensate for lack of vision? I believe that they can.

    Finally, I'm sure nothing anyone says on here will change your mind, and you will continue to misunderstand dyslexia. You will probably respond to this message in the same manner as above, trying to pick holes in my points and arguments. At least you do employ people with Asperger's, so that's something. At the end of the day though dyslexic students will continue to be given extra time to allow them to meet their potential, and you won't be privy to information about whether they had extra time or not.

    P.S. 'accommodate' contains two ms.
    lstanton270 likes this.
  10. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    Interesting thread but one which, as far as I can see, has not corrected the myth that all students with dyslexia get extra time.

    A student who gets extra time has to be below a standardised score of 85 in processing information, handwriting or reading. This score is below the average range on a bell curve so by giving extra time to is levelling the playing field; not giving an advantage. The extra time is a reasonable adjustment for anyone who has slower processing or functional skills than is usual; not just students with dyslexia.

    And with regards to the work place, employers should also give adjustments to an employee with a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia - this is a legal stipulation under the Equalities Act. Many employers (Dorset Local Authority as an example) have excellent support for people with disabilities, learning or physical which mean they can employ and keep the best person for the job.

    Reasonable adjustments would only be unfair if they were not reasonable!


  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Maybe we should be looking at the nature of exam 'structures' and how they serve a purpose ( if at all). I think that given communication , teamwork, problem solving and working with information are key ' employability 'characteristics ( NACE 2014 ) then we should be encouraging students to practice and hone these skills rather than ' process ' them through a one size fits all system.
    Re the extra time scenario. Too many of my students regarded the additional time as a 'stigma ' ( and we were a very forward thinking and creative support Faculty / setting ) and some did not know how to use the extra time to their best advantage inspite of guidance and advice re technique.
  12. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    A good point regarding technique - being able to use extra time, readers and scribes efficiently is really important isn't it? Usual way of working is important fixture of exam access arrangements.

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