Extra time in exams

(28 Posts)
CloudsAndTrees Tue 21-May-13 20:55:15

Hoping there will be some secondary school teachers or knowledgable people around that can help me.

My ds has Aspergers, is in Y8, and has been been assessed by an Ed Psych as having a well below average processing speed. He does well academically though and is doing well at school.

I have spoken to the SENCO at his school, she says she knows he will need extra time in exams, but he hasn't been allowed the extra time for the exams he took today, or yesterday. I'm told this is because they need to gather evidence of his need for extra time to present to the examination boards when he does his GCSEs.

I was slightly miffed but ok with this when they first told me, I figured they knew what they were doing, and ds was ok with it too. But now I have a child who is upset that he hasn't been able to finish any of the four exams he has done so far because he knows he won't get a grade as high as he deserves, and the more I think about it, the more it seems unfair.

Do they really need to disadvantage him in some exams to prove he needs it in others? Is there some other way they could obtain this evidence? What sort of evidence do they actually need? I'd have thought the Ed Psych report would be enough.

How unreasonable would I be to insist that he is graded on the work he managed to finish, rather than on the exam overall?

Sorry for all the questions!

funchum8am Tue 21-May-13 21:02:04

I am a secondary head of faculty but not a Senco. At most state schools they do need to prove that pupils cannot finish exams in the time given because of their SEN, and a clear way of proving that would be based on prior exam series where they had under performed when not given extra time. It is not the only way though. At my school all the pupil's teachers would be asked to give examples of classroom based assessments (rather than whole year exams sat in the exam hall) where the pupil had not finished despite working throughout, and where grades were below what the teacher thought they were capable of. But we don't do any exam style whole year tests until year 10 anyway so we couldn't do it that way.

However if your son is doing "exams" in year 8 does that mean classroom based assessments in normal lesson time, or full exams in the hall? Because if the format, it would be impossible to arrange the extra time without singling your son out at such and early stage (ie him not leaving at the end of the lesson but staying for his extra time, and possibly then missing break or having a break later when his friends are back in the next lesson.). So maybe the school have decided this way is less difficult. I would contact the head of year or form tutor and ask for their rationale.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 21-May-13 21:09:37

Thanks for the response.

They are end of year internal exams, bit they are done in class groups. They have gone completely off timetable for exam week though, and the school does make a big deal of its end of year exams. It's definitely not classroom based assessments.

It's interesting to know that evidence could be gathered another way, especially as presumably all schools use the same exam boards. You may be right that they might not have wanted to single him out too much by making him stay at the end of normal time, but they did say they he would get extra time for some exams though. I'm expecting him to have it tomorrow, so I'm not sure that is their line of thinking.

Startail Tue 21-May-13 21:25:25

DD1 didn't get extra time for internal school exams (sadly it would have helped with science sets), but she has had extra time for all her English CAs and Core science GCSEs.

You have to make sure the Senco/SN dept are on their toes and are talking to the exam office. Testing has to be done and results submitted to the exam boards in a fixed time window. Assessments done too early or to late don't count. So far our lot have been great, special arrangements have come through on everything.

(DD1 is dyslexic, the extra time allows her to reread questions, search the paper and/or the recesses for her brain for spellings and proof her some what erratic English. She values it very much. To those who might think it a con. It isn't, it allows DCs to show their knowledge of the subject in writing, when talking to DD1 it would be obvious she knows her stuff.)

CloudsAndTrees Tue 21-May-13 21:52:38

I thought they were on their toes when they said they needed to gather evidence, it just didn't occur to me that it was going to be quite this horrible for ds having to sit exams knowing that he simply couldn't achieve what he is capable of.

We are both going to be very upset if they have to do this again next year if this year is too early. I will be sure to ask that when I speak to them.

I'm ashamed to say that I used to be one of those people that thought extra time was a bit of a con. Now I know better! Like your dd, my ds knows his stuff, it's arranging that stuff into palatable sentences that takes him time.

Dominodonkey Tue 21-May-13 23:22:02

I would let a child with sen have extra time but they would have to do it at break, lunch or after school. It will be easier to prove he needs extra time if the tests could be photocopied without the extra time element first.

Donki Tue 21-May-13 23:38:50

Regulations for eligibility for access arrangements (including extra time)
here

The school need compelling evidence that the student needs extra time. This does not need to be from tests or exams.

"The vast majority of candidates awarded extra time of up to 25% will have an assessment of speed of processing showing at least one standardised score of 84 or less"

A recent assessment of processing speed from a specialist teacher or Ed.Psych showing this should be sufficient evidence.

Donki Tue 21-May-13 23:43:42

That is access arrangements for GCSE and GCE exams - the school can do whatever they like with internal exams.
I would be (was last week) steaming if my son felt that he was being set up to fail in this way.
Unusually for me I managed to be politely assertive, (with a copy of the evidence, which I knew the school already had) and DS was given extra time (after he had had a weekend of sleepless nights worrying, despite my reassurances)

schooldidi Tue 21-May-13 23:44:25

We always try to let pupils from year 7 upwards have extra time for all exams. That isn't always possible though, as some exams are done period 1, and there is another class coming into the room for period 2, so there isn't a room available for children to have extra time. I would try to let that child come back at lunchtime or break to have their extra time provision though.

Unfortunately, most schools have year 7 and 8 exams taking place at the same time as GCSEs and A levels, so most of the support staff who are used as readers/scribes/invigilators for pupils who need it are all tied up in the external exams. There is only so much schools can do with the staff they have available, and obviously students taking external exams take priority over pupils taking internal exams when it comes to allocating members of staff.

Donki Tue 21-May-13 23:45:28

And a million thankyous to the SENCO where I work for being really clued up and giving me all the back up I needed with my son's school!

Isthiscorrect Wed 22-May-13 03:54:43

It is possible to get through this at this late stage. Ds wasn't assessed but he Ed psych until the end of year 9/ beginning of year 10. I was told this is because ethe report is valid for two years only. Indeed ds had another assessment at the beginning of year 12. He is taking 4 as levels essay heavy and predicted 2xA and 2xB, although ds is working very hard as he wants 4 A's.
My point is he never had the extra time, it did affect the setting however when he looks back it wasn't a bad thing for him as his written work could never keep up although he could answer the questions verbally. Often the school asked him about changing sets and he always refused. He was lucky it didn't mean not being able to take triple science, every student at our school takes triple unless it really isn't in their interest, maybe less than 10% of the entire cohort. Likewise in maths he gained his confidence rather than being left behind.
The school seem like they are showing willing so give them the benefit of the doubt. Yes it is very hard but your ds will be ok. His individual teachers will know he is capable of more and now he he is on the radar and the teachers are co-ordinating it will come good. Just be aware get the report so it covers until the gcses are over, it would be awful to need a new report part way thru. Then a new report to cover a levels. It's very hard to get a reader at a level, ds didn't get one :-( so we did a lot of work to ensure he uses his extra time to maximum effect.
Good luck to you and your ds.

happygardening Wed 22-May-13 06:57:43

DS has extra time the ed psych assessment put his processing speed in the bottom 1% of the population and no further tests were needed and he then was meant to receive extra time for all exams/ CA's including any internal exams. I think they have to have been assessed in the two years leading up to any state exam. As the curriculum gets more complex your DS will find it harder to access it and will then probably under perform in relation to his IQ this is what happens to my DS and in talking to others with DC's in the same position this is sadly common. Most schools IME both state and independent are frankly crap and helping children with poor processing as they don't understand it.
OP keep monitoring what going on all the time don't assume it's being done and jump up and down very loudly as soon as you find out it isn't then if you're really lucky your DS might get 40% of what he needs.

CouthyMow Wed 22-May-13 07:29:55

DD (APD, SPD) didn't get the extra time in Y8, but that have the school evidence.

Now in Y10, she gets 25% extra time in all her exams and controlled assessments, and she also gets a scribe and reader.

If rather they buggered up on exams in Y8 than in their GCSE's!

2rebecca Wed 22-May-13 10:47:06

My son with dyslexia gets extra time in some but not others. In his prelims he got extra time but had to draw a line when normal time was up then write below it in extra time. In one of his prelims he finished half an hour early so didn't get extra time for the real exam which unfortunately he didn't finish as there was alot more reading in the questions. Not much you can do about that, although the school may be able to appeal as he was expecting an A, we'll have to wait and see.
When he was younger (he's currently doing his highers) there often wasn't time for extra time in the pretend school exams (ie internal not external) but if he didn't finish a paper allowance was made for it.
They started giving him extra time and doing the line thing when he was in 3rd year secondary school.

LIZS Thu 23-May-13 08:35:15

Can anyone clarify whether it is possible to have extra time and use of a laptop (Dyspraxia and low processing speed) ? ds is yr 10 and currently has both but heard a rumour that may not be possible in GCSE.

RawCoconutMacaroon Thu 23-May-13 08:58:31

In our case, its Standard Grades (Scotland), so it may be a bit different to gcse protocol, but my ds3 is currently doing his SG's, mostly on computer, but some subjects with extra time but with extra time.

Ds3 has Aspergers, can barely write (not dyslexic, physically finds it hard), and is very very bright.

Last year he had to do a series of class exams and assessments, hand written and under time pressure- he found this very distressing, as he carries his own laptop at school and uses it in most classes. He had episodes of school refusal over this because he hates to "fail" but eventually we did get get it through to him, that evidence was needed or he couldn't use computers in the exams.

In his prelims in december he got the same concessions (computer, extra time), it has worked really well for him.

RawCoconutMacaroon Thu 23-May-13 09:04:57

2rebeca- yes my ds3 had to do the "draw a line at the end of normal time too". We are hoping for similar concessions next year for Highers, but don't know if his expected "all credits" at SG will mean he can't get help ( even though there is no way he would get those grades without the concessions iykwim!).

2rebecca Thu 23-May-13 09:07:59

My son got good grades at his standards and int 2s and there was no problem asking for extra time/ computer for highers. He and the school had to demonstrate that he needed them though.

2rebecca Thu 23-May-13 09:12:26

In Scotland it's possible to have both, my son types in longer written papers and got a scribe for 2 of his papers last year. His typing is as slow as his writing though as dylsexics don't speed up much when you give them a keyboard it's just more legible and has a spellcheck. he didn't get extra time when he had a scribe, but didn't need it.

LIZS Thu 23-May-13 15:11:12

ds is hoping to ask the SENCO when he finishes his last exam tomorrow. Previous Ed Psych report was Year 8. He has to change colour ink for extra time work.

Isthiscorrect Thu 23-May-13 15:26:25

Ds, finishes year 12 today, has extra time and a laptop. He has to do a typing test in year 10 to make sure a laptop would be better for him, it was. He was also allowed to use his own laptop for taking notes. In years 10 and 12 he had a reader and a scribe. Sadly it wasn't possible to get a reader for A levels. He still has a lap top and extra time.
The Ed psych report lasts two years, so get it in time for the start if year 10 and then again for year 12.
He has never had to write in a different colour or under a line.

RawCoconutMacaroon Thu 23-May-13 23:18:23

Interesting 2rebecca, my OTHER son and myself (both diagnosed dyslexics) can type fast, but we also both read and write fairly fast too... We have the same profile of problem areas (and highly irregular writing), I guess we don't have the processing speed issue... Which makes me wonder if ds3 is dyslexic but with a different profile of issues (the school pretty much refuses to use labels), ds2 was diagnosed as severely dyslexic within a week of starting university last year. At school he got some computer exams, no extra time tho.

basildonbond Fri 24-May-13 08:46:03

Ds currently doing GCSEs and has both extra time and laptop - he's always had extra time in exams but hadn't used the laptop until this year - he had to do a typing test to make sure that it would actually be faster (although his writing is soooo slow I don't think it would be possie for it not to be!)

He has a statement - combination of Tourette's (although tics have gone for past 2 years hurrah), ADHD and ASD traits. We had to get letter from psychiatrist at CAMHS and senco at school sorted it

He doesn't have to use a different colour or write below a line

basildonbond Fri 24-May-13 08:46:49

Possible, even ...

2rebecca Fri 24-May-13 14:08:31

My son had touch typing lessons through the school but his typing is still pretty laborious.
he finds reading questions and copying stuff difficult as well. Once he understands the question he's fine. he's incapable of skim reading and has to do it word by word.
He's a big fan of audiobooks.
We're thinking of getting Dragon speech recognition for him, although as he's moved towards maths, physics etc subjects not sure how useful that would be now.

Hassled Fri 24-May-13 14:12:45

LIZS - my Dyspraxic DS gets extra time in the exams where he can't reasonably use a laptop, so maths/science, and no extra time when he can use the laptop (his typing is at least as fast as the average person's handwriting so that seems fair enough).

Re the OP - it does seem unfair that your DS has to be set up to fail before he can get the exam authority, and that wasn't the case for my DS2. He was assessed by the school SENCo, and she made the application to the exam board on the back of her assessments (actually she forgot to, but that was a whole other thread - sorted now).

Leonas Sat 25-May-13 19:09:55

It is important that the school has evidence of what he can do with extra time and without or it might not be approved by the qualification authority. I teach in Scotland but I assume this will be the case in England too.
It is difficult for pupils and teachers as we know it is frustrating for the students to have to sit exams at a disadvantage but without the evidence the Educational Psychologist can't agree to them actually needing the extra time.

zamantha Sat 25-May-13 19:13:43

support the school with this - they need evidence. Once set up will really help. My DS has extra time and a seperate room which really helps at AS - used to be lots of boys with him .but they mostly left after GCSes - my son is bright but needs extra time.

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