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Whatever your view, dyslexia is neurological and the effects are real. In simple terms, dyslexia robs a student of time.

Tests, assessments, and NCEA exams are a fact of school life and a ticket to opportunities beyond the classroom. They are stressful for most, but dyslexic students are at a distinct disadvantage because their basic skills including accurate spelling and fluent reading hold them back.

In NCEA exams the playing field must be leveled. This is done by way of special assessment conditions and they come in the form of extra time, use of a computer, a reader / writer, or a less distracting room, to name the most common. Secondary schools are legally required to identify students who qualify for these, accumulate evidence to support this view, and apply to the NZ Qualifications Authority to have the appropriate assessment condition [or any combination] put in place.

Although many NZ secondary schools met these obligations very well, the harsh reality is that the majority unfortunately do not - for a variety of reasons. Parents play a critical role here, and must advocate strongly. Dyslexia does not go away and it robs a student of time. Special Assessment Conditions make a significant difference, and can very often mean the difference between success and failure.

Special Assessment Conditions are a necessary entitlement for dyslexic students sitting NCEA. Science, the law, international human rights, and equitable access to learning are why Special Assessment Conditions are provided. Clearly, it follows, that the same approach should be commonly applied in all years and in each and every situation where a student is being asked to show what they know - whether this be a test, assessment, or presentation.

In the early school years, teachers should offer similar accommodations and other teaching and environmental adjustments. They should encourage alternative forms of evidence to show learning, such as mind-maps, oral presentations or videos. Every effort should be made, and anything that supports learning should be considered. Many teachers don't think they have permission to do this, and even some principals - this is simply untrue.

You could say that the provision of accommodations, adjustments, and special assessment conditions is where the "rubber hits the road". Its where the education system delivers or it doesn't. Its certainly where parents can have the greatest influence over their child's school journey.

A parents advocacy should seek specific outcomes of this nature.

It’s not rocket science!


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