Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)
may consider setting a ceiling of marks deduction or not deducting any marks for word-writing errors.
Extra time allowance: In general, students with SpLD in reading and writing can be given 25% extra time in written examinations, longer preparation time to read the information in oral examinations, and longer pauses to jot down the main points in listening tests.
Modification in presentation format of question papers: In order to facilitate students with SpLD in reading and writing to read the question papers, schools can consider special arrangements according to their needs, namely:
Enlarging the entire question papers
Printing the questions on paper of normal size
Allowing students to undo the binding of the examination papers
Printing the questions on papers of specific colours (e.g. ivory) so that they are easy to read.
As far as possible, put the questions and space for writing answers, as well as the text and questions, on the same page or adjacent pages. This will help the students with SpLD in reading and writing to avoid making mistakes when turning the pages to look for answers due to weak working memory.
Modification in response format: Based on students’ difficulties in reading and writing, schools can consider allowances such as allowing students to write in alternate lines, providing answer sheets with wider spacing, permitting students to circle or write the answers directly on the examination papers, etc. For primary school students, schools can flexibly adopt an answering mode that minimizes writing, e.g. number the parts of the sentence scramble, circle or underline the appropriate parts of an essay instead of writing the text when answering reading comprehension questions.
Reading out the papers / using screen readers / asking for pronunciation of words
In general, many schools would read out the examination papers of various subjects for Primary one and two students. Since this practice is applicable to all students, it is not a special examination arrangement and schools can do so according to the needs of the students.
For students of other class levels, arrangements of reading out the papers / using screen readers / asking for pronunciations of words are only applicable to students assessed with SpLD in reading and writing and having severe difficulties in word reading (e.g. those whose reading performance is two standard deviations or more below mean in a standardized test).
Arrangements of reading out the papers / using screen readers / asking for pronunciation of words are not allowed in papers in which reading comprehension skills, pinyin or pronunciation is/ are tested. Schools should not provide such arrangements for students in language papers, the assessment objectives of which generally include testing the reading ability of students, so as to avoid changing the content and objectives of the assessment. Of the language subjects, such arrangements are permitted in papers where the objectives of assessment are on writing and listening comprehension.
All in all, the use of screen reader is applicable for non-language papers and the writing and listening parts of language papers. Arrangements such as reading out the papers for students / allowing them to ask for pronunciation of words are applicable to non-language papers and, in language papers, instructions and the sections on writing and listening.
For senior grade students who are competent enough to learn to use screen readers, schools should provide them with the software and relevant training so that they can use the device in learning and assessment.
For students who do not know how to use screen readers but require reading aloud of papers, schools can allow them to ask the invigilators about the pronunciation of words on the examination papers. If schools are to make such an arrangement, it is better to conduct the examination in small groups. Besides, schools should take note of the ratio between invigilators and candidates to shorten students’ waiting time.
Concerning the points to note in reading aloud of papers and the use of screen readers, please refer to Section 4 in Chapter IV.
Regarding those papers in public examinations where screen readers are NOT allowed for students with SpLD in reading and writing, please refer to the related information of the HKEAA.
Use of speech-to-text software (e.g. the built-in speech-to-text software on MacBook Air) to input answers.
From 2017 onwards, eligible students with specific learning difficulties in reading and writing can apply for the use of text software (e.g. the built-in speech-to-text software on MacBook Air) to input answers for the Liberal Studies examination.
For details please refer to the related information issued by HKEAA.
Schools should provide eligible students with the necessary device and equipment, as well as appropriate training, so that they can use the device in daily learning and examinations.
Dictation accommodations – students with SpLD in reading and writing have great difficulty in learning to read and write from memory and to write from dictation. Schools can provide them with different levels of accommodation:
Schools can adopt a flexible marking scheme for dictation, such as giving marks for words correctly written instead of deducting marks for writing errors, and setting a ceiling for the marks to be deducted for each part.
Schools should let students or their parents know well in advance the coverage of dictation so that they have more time to do the preparation.
Teachers can adjust the frequency of reading aloud and the pace of dictation according to the needs of students, thus allowing them sufficient time to grasp the content and write accordingly.
For students with SpLD in reading and writing who cannot cope with regular dictations as other students do, schools may consider reducing the scope that the students have to prepare so that they can focus on the foundation areas.
Reduce the amount of dictation for students. For instance, average students can have dictation on the whole passage while students with SpLD in reading and writing can have dictation on two of the paragraphs. When providing such an arrangement, schools must also reduce the scope that the students have to do revision correspondingly so that the students can consolidate what they have learned.
If schools have to reduce the scope and amount of dictation, they can consider designing special dictation sheet for the students. For instance, students are only
required to fill in some words or sentences and they can do the dictation along with other students.
If the scope of dictation for individual students is reduced, their dictation content will not be the same as other students’. As it would not be meaningful to compare the scores of these students with those of other students, schools can consider the practice of exempting their dictation marks in the language papers. Some schools do not count the dictation marks when calculating the aggregate scores of Chinese Language and can have greater flexibility in providing for accommodations.
Using computer input method instead of writing - if students with SpLD in reading and writing also have motor coordination disorders and their writing speed is extremely slow or their handwriting is illegible, when supported by documentation issued by occupational therapists / specialists, schools may consider allowing them to use computer input method instead of writing.