Standardised tests for dyslexic students of English
Standardised tests have never been fair to dyslexic candidates.
There seems to be no such thing as a standardised test for a dyslexic thinker simply because dyslexic minds are not standard. Standardised tests are difficult for dyslexic learners and they have never showcased what they know or what they can do. Here are some alternatives to neurotypical standardised tests
- Avoid using language which is obfuscatory and confusing for candidates.
- Use dyslexia friendly typography fonts like Comic Sans, Trebuchet or Calibri; letter spacing to 0.5 or 1; line spacing to 1.5; font size to 12 or larger; no capital letters when possible; no italics; good spacing between paragraphs;short paragraphs; lists to emphasise points.
- Do not ignore the existence of regular class tools in examination systems.
- Allow assistive technology like reading pens and speech-to-text / text-to-speech
- Lean into their communication strengths and do not rely solely on written information.
- Break tasks down into steps that allow candidates to maintain concentration.
- Generate assessment systems which assess how information is provided not placing emphasis on grammar and spelling.
- Do not pay attention to the quality of handwriting as dyslexic candidates may have difficulties because of the fine motor skills required.
- Provide reading comprehension tasks sufficiently in advance so that candidates can work on them with no pressure, allow for breaks.
- Prioritise the multiple-choice format for reading and listening comprehension tasks.
- Approach candidates after assessment of reading comprehension tasks have started to ask if they have any questions and to encourage them to ask if they do not understand any aspect throughout the test.
- Create a system which rewards them based on the highest aspect of their spiky profile instead of the lowest aspect of that profile as standardised tests do.
- Accommodate assessment indicators by assigning up to 20% additional value to core learning standards that are strengths for the ccandidate.
- Lower by up to 20% the value of learning standards that are weak points for the candidate, such as reading comprehension, and written expression and spelling.
- Consider extra time and/or shorter workload to ensure completion of tasks.
- Allow to answer by audio or video recording depending on the degree of difficulty.
- Allow candidates to make outlines of information provided (using appropriate vocabulary and grammar) instead of essays.
- Allow formulae or grammatical structure schemes in view.
- Assessment must be focused on the overall learning rather be based on exam results.
- Show attitudes of tolerance and understanding of problems that may arise.
Let us not put 360 view thinkers through the narrow filter of standardised assessments