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Assessment

There is no one single strategy for creating assessments suitable for learners with dyslexia. This is because dyslexia is not a single condition but a wide range of conditions whose effects can be completely different in different learners. There may be two otherwise similar learners with dyslexia who need very different adjustments to reach the same goals. So the majority of best practice advice with regard to assessment and learners with dyslexia focuses on the use of Plain English - which will benefit all learners but especially learners with dyslexia) and on allowing the learner to apply their own needs and preferences to any given situation. Failing that there are certain characteristics which will assist a majority of dyslexic learners, but it must be noted that these will not assist all learners with dyslexia and may have a negative effect on some.

In the case of catering for learners with dyslexia in terms of assessments, it is unusual to make an adjustment that involves creating (or seeking permission to create, e.g. from the Awarding Body etc) an alternative assessment. Because the majority of learners with dyslexia could access most assessments with only the minimum of adjustments required if they were designed appropriately, it is recommended that in most instances these design aspects are incorporated into as many assessments as possible from the outset – most are simple to achieve and have no negative impact on other learners.

Some adjustments will be permitted by some Awarding Bodies and others will not, some may be permitted in some circumstances and not others. However, most adjustments to aid learners with dyslexia do not substantively affect the nature of the assessment and so can be incorporated without much difficulty. Some of the more common adjustments for learners with dyslexia include enabling the learner being assessed to adjust the font face and size, the colour of the text and background, and the rate at which new pages appear (systems where questions appear and progress to a set timescale are now thankfully rare). The use of Plain English will also aid many learners with dyslexia, and to compensate for slower reading, cognitive processing and writing/typing speeds, many learners with dyslexia are also often granted extra time in which to complete an assessment. Many Awarding Bodies make a standard allowance for extra time based simply on the normal length of the assessment as an additional proportion. This is a very blunt tool which has no basis on the capabilities of the individual concerned, but as a broad brush approach does at least offer some degree of assistance to many learners with dyslexia.

Assessment considerations - subsection

Further information