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Special examination arrangements for VCE external assessments

Eligibility

Special Examination Arrangements may be approved for students with disabilities, illnesses or other circumstances that affect their ability to access a VCE external assessment.

Special Examination Arrangements applications are made to the VCAA through the student’s school and must be endorsed by the principal. Such applications will be considered by the VCAA in accordance with the VCAA Special Provision policy.

The VCAA recognises that some students with a disability, as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth), or illness may require Special Examination Arrangements to enable them to access the examination/test questions and communicate their responses in a timed external assessment.

The VCAA considers a large number of applications for Special Examination Arrangements every year. As it is the school that makes the application on behalf of students, and will ultimately administer their VCE external assessments, the VCAA’s consultation with a student and/or their representative will usually take place through their school.

Schools must not permit a student to receive Special Examination Arrangements without the VCAA’s approval. Failure to comply with these instructions may constitute a breach of the rules governing the conduct of VCE external assessments.

The VCAA considers each application for Special Examination Arrangements on a case-by-case basis. The VCAA will make a decision based primarily on the school-based evidence and recommendations taking into consideration any additional academic and educational assessments and independent evidence provided with the application.

Early engagement and application

The VCAA encourages schools to engage with the VCAA as early as possible to discuss any issues relating to managing students completing secondary level studies (Years 7–12) who may require special provision.

Early engagement allows schools to discuss interventions and implement appropriate provisions for classroom learning and school-based assessments, in the years preceding VCE.

For long term or permanent conditions, it may be appropriate for a school to submit a formal early application for Year 9 onwards. Evidence requirements for early applications are consistent with applications submitted on behalf of students enrolled in senior secondary level program.

An early application that is approved by the VCAA will provide schools and students with certainty about the provisions that will be in place for the student when enrolled in a senior secondary level program and allows schools to implement these provisions from Year 9 onwards with certainty.

Any advice given or decisions made by the VCAA in relation to early engagement or formal early applications will consider the National Protocols for Test Administration (NPTA) which cover rules and requirements for NAPLAN special provision (referred to as disability adjustments).

Once an early application has been assessed by the VCAA, the responsibility will rest with the school to contact the VCAA in the period leading up to and including the year in which a student enrols in their senior secondary level program to discuss variations to a student’s provisions as a result of any change in their existing circumstance(s) or due to the onset of a new condition.

In some cases, such as a student with a condition that presents episodic symptoms, the VCAA may require a school to provide updated evidence at particular stages during the student’s secondary schooling that reflect changes made to a student’s provisions to meet the needs of the student. At the same time, other evidence will not be required to be submitted again.

Schools should contact VCAA Special Provision to discuss procedures associated with submitting a formal early application.

Submitting an application for Special Examination Arrangements

Schools can apply for Special Examination Arrangements in the year the student first enrols in a VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3–4 sequence, using the VCAA’s Special Provision Online (SPO) system. However, the VCAA strongly encourages schools to engage with the VCAA as early as possible to discuss issues relating to appropriate provisions and evidence requirements.

Students who are approved Special Examination Arrangements can generally expect that these arrangements will be replicated for any additional VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3- 4 sequences undertaken in subsequent years. The VCAA may request additional and/or updated evidence when it is deemed necessary.

How to apply

 

What schools need to do

Schools are responsible for identifying who may be eligible for special provision for classroom learning, School-based Assessments and VCE external assessments. Many students will already be known to school staff, having been identified though established and ongoing support programs and discussions with teachers and/or parents/guardians.

Schools must determine the functional impact of a student’s condition on their ability to access and respond to timed assessments. They should consider the individual student’s circumstances, any existing special provision for classroom learning and/or School-based Assessments, teacher observations and existing professional evidence when determining which Special Examination Arrangements to apply for.

Schools should consult the VCAA if they are unsure about appropriate arrangements.

What the VCAA will do

The VCAA will aim to approve Special Examination Arrangements for VCE external assessments consistent with any existing special provisions implemented by the school for classroom learning and School-based Assessments.

If necessary, the VCAA will contact schools to request additional evidence or information to support the assessment of an application. The VCAA may need to seek additional information from any professional(s) named in an application.

The VCAA may establish an expert Special Examination Arrangements panel, comprising educational psychologists, medical practitioners, senior examination assessors and other relevant professionals, to assist with the assessment of Special Examination Arrangements applications.

The VCAA’s decision regarding a student’s Special Examination Arrangements will be communicated to the school via email.
The school is responsible for communicating the decision to the student.

Appealing a decision

Schools may appeal a VCAA decision. Appeals must be submitted by the school within 14 days of receiving a decision email. The appeal must state why the VCAA decision is being challenged and reference the evidence supplied in the original application. Appeals should include any supporting new evidence, such as additional letters of support from professionals, educational and academic tests not previously submitted, and/or school-based evidence and observations.

The VCAA will process all appeals within 21 days of receipt of an appeal. The outcome will be communicated to schools via email. The school is responsible for communicating an appeal decision to the student.

New evidence may also be submitted to support an application if there is a new diagnosis or deterioration in an existing condition.

Administering approved Special Examination Arrangements

Schools must ensure a copy of any approved Special Examination Arrangements are distributed to the student, relevant school personnel (that is, VCE Coordinator) and the examination chief supervisor.

School personnel must ensure there is a common understanding between the school, student and supervisor as to precisely what any approved Special Examination Arrangements entail.

Emergency Special Examination Arrangements

Schools may submit an emergency application if a student experiences a sudden illness, accident or personal trauma immediately before or during an external assessment period.

Medical evidence for emergency applications must contain:

  • a diagnosis
  • the date of diagnosis
  • the date of onset
  • an outline of symptoms and treatment
  • comments on the likely effect of the illness or condition on the student’s capacity to complete VCE external assessments
  • any medical recommendations for particular Special Examination Arrangements

For situations that arise just before an assessment period, schools should use the Emergency Special Examination Arrangements application form. This application will be available two weeks prior to the commencement of each period for VCE external assessments.

If a student is ill on the day of, or during, an external assessment, the school should contact VCAA Special Provision to seek approval for immediate Emergency Special Examination Arrangements. Follow-up medical documentation may be required.

Any attempt by a student to falsely claim to an examination supervisor to have Special Examination Arrangements when these have not been approved by the VCAA may constitute a breach of examination rules and must be reported to the VCAA.

Types of Special Examination Arrangements

Special Examination Arrangements can include the following:

Rest breaks

Rest breaks are typically approved at a rate of 10 minutes per hour of the ‘total examination writing time’.

Rest breaks are in addition to all reading or writing time.

In specific circumstances, the VCAA may approve longer or unlimited rest breaks to facilitate management of a significant medical or physical condition.

Students are responsible for managing how they use their rest break allocation, including when and how long each break will be, with the supervisor noting the start and end times on the Special Examination Arrangements Rest Break Log Sheet.

The rest break allocation displayed on the Special Examination Arrangements Advice Slip should not be exceeded. Students must be offered the full allocation of reading and writing time, in addition to the time taken for rest breaks.

Students:

  • are not permitted to leave their table or leave the examination room during rest breaks, except in special circumstances as approved by the VCAA
  • are not permitted to read or write or access the examination/test questions or their responses during a rest break; papers must be turned facedown during a rest break
  • may use their rest break to relax, rehearse previously learned coping strategies, focus their thoughts or reflect on their responses.

Extra working time

Extra working time is typically approved at a rate of 10 minutes per hour of the ‘total examination writing time’.  In specific circumstances, the VCAA may approve ‘extra working time’ in excess of 10 minutes per hour.

Separate rooms for individual students

If approval has been granted for the use of a scribe (or electronic scribe), reader (or electronic reader) a clarifier, an Auslan interpreter and/or assistive technology, a student must complete their external assessment in a separate examination room and a separate supervisor must be present.

Small Group settings

Where two or more students are approved the same or similar Special Examination Arrangements in an examination session, they can, be seated in the same room, unless it is necessary for each student to complete their examination in a separate room due to their individual circumstances.

A school does not need to submit a request for the approval of a small group setting.

Schools should appoint one supervisor for every four students in a small group setting.

Group Computer Rooms

Where a school has two or more students with the use of a computer approved in the same examination session, these students must be seated in the same room, unless the use of an individual separate room has been approved due to a student’s individual circumstances.

Schools should appoint one supervisor for every four students in a group computer room.

Use of computers, tablets and/or assistive technology

The following table outlines the responsibilities of, and actions required by schools, supervisors and students when the use of a computer and/or assistive technology (that is, specific text-to-voice or voice-to-text software) has been approved.

This table outlines what a school, supervisor and student must do
The school must:
  • only allow a student the use of a computer, tablet and/or assistive technology if the VCAA has approved such provision for their external assessment
  • supply a stand-alone computer or tablet that only has access to a word-processing package and approved software
  • not allow the student to use predictive software or functions
  • not allow the student to access dictionary functions in examinations where a dictionary is not allowed
  • not allow the student to access the internet during the examination
  • check that the computer, tablet and any other equipment to be used on the day of the external assessment are functioning properly
  • supply one blank memory device per external assessment for the student to use to save their response.
  • clearly label the memory device with the following:
    • name of the external assessment
    • VCAA student number
    • examination centre number.
A school with students seated in a group computer room must also ensure:
  • students are sufficiently spaced within the room to allow adequate supervision while not allowing students to see each other’s screens. This may be achieved by using partitions; however, partitions must not be taller than the height of the computer
  • one supervisor is appointed for every four students in the room
  • the supervisor is able to view all screens.
The supervisor must:
  • watch the computer or tablet screen at all times to check that the student is not accessing any other programs, documents or functions
  • remind the student at the commencement of the external assessment that they must save their work at regular intervals
  • stop the external assessment if problems are experienced with the computer, tablet or other software and equipment and seek appropriate assistance, then resume the external assessment, ensuring no time loss to the student. An Incident Report about the circumstances should be completed and returned to the VCAA with the student’s response materials
  • print the final version of the student’s responses at the conclusion of writing time. The student must be present at the time of printing (this must be done when the assessment is completed. The VCAA will not print student work)
  • place the printed work inside the front cover of the response materials
  • if necessary, complete all written details on the front cover of the response materials
  • ensure that the memory device used by the student to save their responses and the response materials are returned inside the gold envelope
  • check that the memory device is clearly labelled with the VCAA student number, external assessment name and examination centre number.
Students:
  • must use a stand-alone computer or tablet that has access to a word-processing package and approved software only
  • must not access any other programs, files, or data. Any use of other programs, files or data constitutes a breach of VCAA rules and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures
  • may only access the dictionary function in examinations where a dictionary is allowed
  • may access the spellchecker facility in the word-processing package only. Use of predictive text or predictive software is not allowed
  • must not set language to any language other than English in the word-processing package
  • must save their work regularly during the external assessment
  • must include their VCAA student number at the beginning of every page
  • must include the number of each question or task answered at the beginning of every page, ensuring that it correlates with the examination question or task book
  • must be present to witness the printing of their work from the memory device. This must be done when the assessment is completed. The VCAA will not print student work.

 

Readers

The function of a reader is to read the examination paper and/or the student’s responses as often as requested by the student. A person appointed as a reader should have:

  • a facility for English and familiarity with the VCE study being examined
  • patience and sensitivity to the student’s requirements
  • an understanding of the need to maintain confidentiality.

The appointed reader may work with the student in any practice examinations.

A supervisor, in addition to the reader, must be present in the examination room and monitor all interactions between the reader and the student.

This table outlines what a reader can or cannot do
Readers can:Readers cannot:
  • read the examination/test questions and any incorporated stimulus or resource material as many times as the student asks them to
  • read the student’s answers back to them
  • operate a calculator at the student’s direction.
  • assist and/or interpret any question/s for the student
  • advise the student in any way, either by prompting or discussing the answers.

Electronic readers

If a student is approved the use of an electronic reader or reader software, they must be supervised in a separate room.

This table outlines what supervisors and students must do
Supervisors must:Students must:
  • allow a student the use of a computer or tablet with assistive technology if one is required for the reader software and has been approved by the VCAA
  • monitor that the student has access to an approved electronic reader or software only
  • not allow the student to use word predictive software or functions
  • not allow students to access dictionary functions in examinations where a dictionary is not allowed
  • not allow the student to access the internet during the examination.
  • only use the approved computer or tablet and reader software. Any use of other programs, files or data constitutes a breach of VCAA rules and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures
  • not access the internet during the external assessment
  • not use word predictive software or functions during the external assessment
  • only use the electronic dictionary in examinations where a dictionary is allowed.

If the use of a reader or electronic reader is approved, extra working time at a rate of ten minutes per hour of writing time will be approved.

Scribes

The function of a scribe is to record, on the appropriate response material, the verbal responses and directions made by the student in the process of answering the question/s.

A person appointed as a scribe should have:

  • a facility for English and familiarity with the VCE study being examined
  • clear and legible handwriting
  • patience and sensitivity to the student’s requirements
  • an understanding of the need to maintain confidentiality.

The appointed scribe may work with the student in any practice examinations.

On behalf of the student the scribe will:

  • complete all written details associated with the examination on the response materials, such as the VCAA student number, study title, the numbers of all questions and/or tasks answered and the number of answer books used
  • record the student’s responses, as dictated by the student
  • re-read the student responses for editing purposes, if requested by the student.

These tasks are to be completed within the total approved writing time.  If the use of a scribe is approved, a separate room will also be approved and extra working time at a rate of ten minutes per hour of writing time will be approved.

The supervisor, in addition to the scribe, must be present in the examination room and monitor all interactions between the scribe and the student.

Before the commencement of the external assessment, the student should advise the scribe how they propose to answer the examination questions. Fifteen minutes before the end of the examination, the supervisor must announce to both the student and the scribe the time remaining. At the conclusion of the external assessment, the supervisor must inform both the student and the scribe that writing should cease.

This table outlines what a scribe and a student can or cannot do
Scribes can:Scribes cannot:
  • ask the student to repeat a word or sentence
  • ask the student to spell difficult or obscure words
  • punctuate and use capital letters without the specific direction of the student
  • operate a calculator at the student’s direction
  • re-read a paragraph that has been written, to enable the student to regain their place in their work
  • plot or draw graphs with the specific direction of the student.
  • interpret the question/s for the student
  • advise the student in any way
  • make comments on the student’s work
  • alter the student’s work or write words that the student has not dictated
  • re-write a student’s written work (that is, a student cannot write out their examination answers and then have the scribe re-write them)
  • type for the student (unless specific VCAA approval has been granted)
  • draw (if the student cannot draw, contact Special Provision).
Students can:Students cannot:
  • dictate their answers exactly as they wish them to be written down
  • advise the scribe when to start a new paragraph, when to put something in brackets or inverted commas, and when to underline something
  • regularly read over what the scribe has written.
  • ask to have a question interpreted.

If the use of a scribe is approved, extra working time at a rate of 10 minutes per hour of writing time will be approved.

Electronic scribes

If a student is approved the use of scribing software, they must be supervised in a separate room.

This table outlines what supervisors and students must do
Supervisors must:Students must:
  • allow a student the use of a computer or tablet with assistive technology if the VCAA has approved such provision for their external assessment
  • monitor that the student has access to the approved scribing software only
  • not allow the student to use word predictive software or functions
  • not allow student to access dictionary functions in examinations where a dictionary is not allowed
  • not allow the student to access the internet during the examination.
  • only use the approved computer or tablet and scribing software. Any use of other programs, files or data constitutes a breach of VCAA rules and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures
  • not access the internet during the external assessment
  • not use word prediction software or functions during the external assessment
  • only use the electronic dictionary in examinations where a dictionary is allowed.

If the use of a scribe or electronic scribe is approved, extra working time at a rate of ten minutes per hour of writing time will be approved.

Clarifiers

The function of a clarifier is to clarify words contained within examination/test questions. The appointed clarifier may work with the student during any practice examinations.

Clarification can occur during reading and writing time.

This table outlines what clarification means for students with a language disorder or who are deaf or hard of hearing
For students with a language disorder, clarification is restricted toFor students who are deaf or hard of hearing, clarification is restricted to
  • definition of one or more words in a question. The clarifier must not define any words or terms that are ‘study specific’ or subject-related
  • provision of alternative words to those words in the question. The clarifier must not offer alternatives for ‘study specific’ words or terms.
  • definition of one or more words in a question. The clarifier must not define any words or terms that are ‘study specific’ or subject-related
  • provision of alternative words to those words in the question. The clarifier must not offer alternatives for ‘study specific’ words or terms
  • breaking complex sentences down into more manageable parts.

The student and the clarifier are permitted to write the clarification on the examination question/task book.

Discussion about answers, or prompting, must not occur.

Clarifiers may only clarify English sections of a language written examination.

Strict conditions apply for the use of a clarifier in any VCE external assessment. If a student is granted permission by the VCAA to use a clarifier, their school must ensure a copy of the clarifier instruction document (available on VASS) relevant to the impairment or disorder is given to the supervisor and the clarifier. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the instructions are followed.

The supervisor, must be present in the examination room and monitor all interactions between the clarifier and the student.

If the use of a clarifier is approved, extra working time at a rate of ten minutes per hour of writing time will be approved.

Auslan interpreters

A person appointed as an Auslan interpreter should:

  • be fluent in both English and Auslan
  • be familiar with the subject matter being examined
  • be patient and sensitive to the student’s requirements
  • be impartial, objective and respect confidentiality

The role of the Auslan interpreter is to facilitate communication between the student and the supervisor, or between the supervisor, the student, and the reader, scribe and/or clarifier. The Auslan interpreter must sign everything that is spoken and voice everything that is signed so that the student is able to participate fully and equally in the test/examination.

Auslan interpreters cannot add or omit information or modify the original message. Auslan interpreters cannot assist the student with their work, including advising or prompting for answers.

Alternative format examination papers

Alternative format examination papers and materials can include enlarged print, electronic text and Braille.

Students with vision impairment may be eligible to apply for an exemption from the GAT if Braille or other alternative format papers cannot be produced for that external assessment.

Schools should contact Special Provision to discuss a student’s specific circumstances and needs.

Alternative examination venues

In exceptional circumstances the VCAA will approve a student to sit an external assessment at an alternative venue for example, at home or in hospital. Such circumstances would include cases of significant physical or psychological incapacity.

All applications must be supported with a specific medical recommendation. Schools should contact VCAA Special Provision for advice before seeking this arrangement.


Special Provision categories and appropriate provisions

Students are eligible for Special Examination Arrangements if it can be demonstrated that their capacity to access a VCE external assessment is impaired due to one or more of the following:

Mental health conditions

Definition

The VCAA has adopted the following operational definition of a mental health condition for the purpose of assessing Special Examination Arrangements applications:

A mental health condition is a disorder or illness that affects a student’s thought processes, judgement, perception of reality, or emotional and social wellbeing. The symptoms significantly impact on a student’s cognitive functioning. The current presenting symptoms must be supported by evidence from a range of sources including a student’s history, school observations and appropriate health professionals.

Appropriate provisions

The overwhelming consensus among professionals that work with students with Mental Health conditions is that in most circumstances rest breaks are considered the most appropriate provision to manage symptoms that significantly impact on cognitive functioning.

Mental health conditions impact directly on mood, thinking and behaviour and, in an examination environment, may impact on a student’s ability to concentrate.

Rest breaks provide students with an opportunity to use taught techniques to manage their thoughts, emotions and feelings.

An application for the use of a separate room will only be considered where strongly supported by school-based evidence and/or an appropriate health professional.

This table outlines details of the possible Special Examination Arrangements available for a range of mental health conditions.
ConditionPossible difficulties under test conditionsPossible arrangements

Anxiety disorders

Concentration difficulties, anxiety preventing performance in group situations

Rest breaks, permission to leave examination room, small group setting, separate room

Attention-deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders

Concentration and difficulty with impulse control

Rest breaks, permission to take medication, permission to leave examination room, small group setting, separate room

Eating disorder (Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa)

Fatigue, concentration difficulties, need to accommodate eating plans

Rest breaks, permission to bring food or drink into examination room, permission to leave examination room, small group setting, separate room

Depression

Concentration difficulties, difficulties remembering and making decisions, fatigue and tiredness

Rest breaks

Bipolar disorder

Fatigue, restlessness, irritability, disorganised behaviour, difficulty with memory and concentration

Rest breaks, permission to leave examination room, small group setting, separate room

Schizophrenia

Memory loss, mental confusion, slowness in activity, fatigue

Rest breaks, small group setting, separate room

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Recurrent unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behaviours

Rest breaks, permission to leave examination room, small group setting, separate room

Requests for extra working time

Requests for extra working time on the basis of a mental health condition must be accompanied by compelling evidence that demonstrates significant impact on a student’s executive functioning and a decline in academic performance. The evidence may include:

  • school-based evidence that demonstrates a decline in the student’s performance as a result of the condition. This may include the student’s work before and after the onset of the mental health condition
  • school observations and history of other provisions (namely rest breaks) being trialled unsuccessfully.
  • the results of any psychological testing previously administered, such as Conners 3, Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF – prior to 2018 or BRIEF2) or NEPSY II: A Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment, second edition
  • a health professional statement outlining the symptoms and why extra writing time is required

Schools are encouraged to contact VCAA Special Provision to discuss specific student cases before applying for extra working time.

Health impairment or physical disability

Appropriate provisions

This table outlines details of the possible Special Examination Arrangements available for a range of health impairments or physical disabilities.
ConditionPossible difficulties under test conditionsPossible arrangements

Autism spectrum disorder

If difficulties relate to learning, reading, writing, mathematics or problem solving, refer to appropriate provisions for Specific Learning Disorder.

If they relate to the acquisition of and use of language refer to appropriate provisions for Language Disorder.

Concentration difficulties

Rest breaks, small group setting, separate room, permission to leave examination room

Back injury/chronic pain

Pain and/or discomfort due to injury, problems with prolonged sitting

Rest breaks, permission to take medication, permission to stand and stretch (schools can provide a standing desk), permission to leave examination room

Crohn’s disease

Pain and/or discomfort

Rest breaks, permission to leave room

Chronic fatigue syndrome (for example, post-viral fatigue syndrome), myalgic encephalomyelitis

Tiredness/inability to concentrate due to illness

Rest breaks, permission to take medication, permission to bring food and drink into examination room.

Diabetes

Need to check blood sugar levels

Permission to take food and/or drink into the examination, permission to take medication, permission to leave examination room, rest breaks

Epilepsy

May suffer from epileptic seizure during examinations

Permission to take medication, separate room

Hand/wrist/arm/shoulder injury

Difficulty writing due to pain or discomfort in the hand and/or arm, excessive fatigue in the hand

Rest breaks, extra working time, a computer or a scribe

Acquired brain injuries

Mental processing difficulty or slowness

Rest breaks, permission to take medication

Pregnancy or early infant care

In hospital for birth, breastfeeding

Rest breaks, feeding breaks, separate room, hospital supervision

Muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc

Muscle weakness, restrictive use of limbs, communication difficulties

Permission to stand and/or stretch, permission to take medication, separate room, extra working time, computer, assistive technology, use of a scribe/aide, alternative format examination paper

An application for the use of a separate room will only be considered where strongly supported by school-based evidence and/or an appropriate health professional.

Specific learning disorders

Definition

The VCAA has adopted the following operational definition of a Specific Learning Disorder for the purpose of assessing Special Examination Arrangements applications:

Specific Learning Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a biological origin. Students with this disorder possess specific cognitive processing deficits that cause difficulties with learning and using academic skills and manifest in persistent problems with one or more of the following:

  • inaccurate or slow and effortful word reading
  • understanding the meaning of what is read
  • spelling
  • written expression
  • mastering number sense, number facts or calculations
  • mathematical reasoning.

The affected academic skills are substantially and quantifiably below those expected for the student’s grade and/or cause significant interference with academic performance. The learning difficulties are not better accounted for by intellectual disabilities, hearing or vision disorders, motor impairment, mental health disorders or external factors such as environmental disadvantage, chronic absenteeism or lack of appropriate educational experience.

The diagnosis of a learning disorder must be based on the integration of comprehensive clinical evidence from a range of sources including a student’s history (developmental, medical, family and educational) and appropriate diagnostic assessment results.

Schools are encouraged to contact VCAA Special Provision to discuss individual applications.

Appropriate provisions

This table provides a guide to appropriate provisions available to students with specific learning disorders, based on functional impact.
Impairment in Reading (includes Dyslexia)Impairment in Written ExpressionImpairment in Mathematics (includes Dyscalculia)
  • Extra working time
  • Reader
  • Use of assistive technology (e.g. text to voice software, electronic readers)
  • Extra working time
  • Use of a computer
  • Permission to use a Scribe
  • Use of assistive technology (e.g. voice to text software)
  • Extra working time

 

Language disorder

Definition

The VCAA has adopted the following operational definition of a language disorder for the purpose of assessing Special Examination Arrangements applications:

Language Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder impacting on a student’s acquisition and use of language across a range of modalities (that is spoken, written, sign language). Difficulties are evident in one or more of the following:

  • Reduced vocabulary – the student struggles with understanding and expression of words.
  • Limited sentence structure – the student struggles to formulate sentence that are both structurally sound and convey meaning.
  • Impairments in discourse – the student struggles with providing adequate information, sequencing it appropriately and conveying intended meaning in connected speech.

The onset of difficulties is evident in a student’s early language development. It is necessary that these difficulties cannot be better attributed to hearing or another sensory impairment, motor dysfunction and another medical or neurological condition. Likewise, it is important to consider that the language difficulties are not better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay.

The difficulties identified are substantially and quantifiably below those for the student’s grade level and cause significant interference with academic performance.

The diagnosis of a Language Disorder needs to have a solid basis in comprehensive clinical evidence from a range of sources including a student’s history (developmental, medical, familial and educational) in addition to appropriate diagnostic assessment results.

Schools are encouraged to contact VCAA Special Provision to discuss individual cases, if necessary.

Appropriate provisions

This table provides a guide to appropriate provisions available to students with a language disorder.
Language Disorder (possible provisions based on functional impact on the student)
  • Extra working time
  • Reader
  • Clarifier
  • Use of assistive technology (such as text to voice software, electronic reader)

 

Motor disorders

Definition

The VCAA has adopted the following operational definition of a Developmental Coordination Disorder for the purpose of assessing Special Examination Arrangements applications:

Students with a Developmental Coordination Disorder possess specific motor skill deficits which can cause significant difficulties with slowness and/or inaccuracy of handwriting.

The diagnosis of a Developmental Coordination Disorder must be supported by evidence from a range of sources including a student’s history, school observations and appropriate diagnostic assessment results from a qualified individual.

The motor skills deficits are not better explained by intellectual disability, visual impairment or are attributable to a physical disability or neurological condition affecting movement (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disorder – these conditions should be applied for under the Physical Disability category).

Other disorders considered under this category include Stereotypic movement disorders and Tic disorders including Tourette disorder.

Appropriate provisions

This table provides a guide to appropriate provisions available to students with motor disorder
Developmental Coordination Disorder Stereotypic movement disorderTic disorders
  • Rest breaks
  • Extra working time
  • Use of a computer
  • Permission to use a Scribe
  • Use of assistive technology, such as voice-to-text software
  • Separate room
  • Rest breaks
  • Permission to use a scribe
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Separate room
  • Rest breaks

Deaf and hard of hearing

Appropriate provisions

This table provides a guide to appropriate provisions available to deaf and hard of hearing students
Deaf and hard of hearing (possible provisions based on functional impact on the student)
  • Extra working time
  • Use of a clarifier
  • Assistive hearing technology

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may be eligible for a clarifier to assist with their external assessments. A request for a clarifier for a student who is deaf or hard of hearing will be approved if the student:

  • regularly uses a clarifier; and/or
  • is enrolled with the Visiting Teacher Service or a deaf and hard of hearing facility or school.

It is the school’s responsibility to plan appropriate seating arrangements in an external assessment so a student who is deaf or hard of hearing can clearly see the chief supervisor and follow any communications and messages during an external assessment.

If specific technological devices, such as Microlink assistive technology, are required, these should be requested in the application.

Vision impairment

Appropriate provisions

This table provides a guide to appropriate provisions available to students with a vision impairment.
Vision impairment (possible provisions based on functional impact on the student)
  • Alternative format examination
  • Extra working time
  • Rest breaks
  • Use of a computer
  • Permission to use a Scribe
  • Permission to use a Reader
  • Use of assistive technology

Evidence requirements for applications for Special Examination Arrangements

The VCAA requires the following evidence to support an application for Special Examination Arrangements:

  • signed ‘Student consent’* form
  • detailed ‘School-based evidence’*, which comprehensively outlines:
    • the student’s condition (disability, illness, long-term injury or ongoing personal circumstance), including medical and educational history outlining the functional impact on learning and assessments
    • history of provisions approved and used by the student over the period of the condition
    • evidence used to make decisions (for example, health professional or teacher observations).
  • Any existing relevant academic and educational assessments and evidence used by the school to determine appropriate student provision(s)

*Available as downloads from the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS)

Decisions on Special Examination Arrangements applications will be based on strength and completeness of evidence of existing modifications made by the school in classroom learning and School-based Assessments as outlined in the ‘School-based evidence’.

The VCAA may seek further information from the school to support the assessment of an application, if necessary.

Examples of evidence that could be provided to support an application for Special Examination Arrangements

Mental health conditions, Health impairment or physical disability

Evidence from an appropriate health professional. Ideally, the SPO Health Professional Statement should contain the following details:

  • clinical assessments, diagnosis (if available) and date of diagnosis
  • consultation history, presenting symptoms, description of severity and expected duration
  • treatment period and plan (if applicable and available)
  • comments on how the illness or condition would impact on the student’s day-to-day functioning in the classroom and learning
  • comments on the likely effect of the illness or condition on the student’s capacity to complete VCE external assessments.

Specific Learning Disorder or Language Disorder

  • Statement from a teacher(s) outlining why they believe the student is limited by time and not knowledge and what evidence they used to reach this conclusion (if not already provided in ‘School-based evidence’).
  • Diagnostic assessments completed by a registered Health or Allied Health Professional, e.g., Psychologist, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Paediatrician or assessments completed by other qualified educational professionals.
  • Examples of evidence may include:

    • Cognitive assessment (IQ tests) completed at any time during a student’s schooling and administered by a registered psychologist
    • Educational tests focusing on literacy and/or numeracy skills
    • Evidence of a student’s reading including word recognition, comprehension, fluency and reading rate, e.g., Progressive Achievement Test in Reading (PAT-R) or PAT-R Adaptive Test, York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC), or other standardised reading tests.
  • Language Disorder - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)

Motor Disorders

Developmental Coordination Disorder

  • Diagnostic assessments completed by a registered Allied Health Professional e.g., Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Paediatrician, including:
  • handwriting and/or handwriting speed assessments
  • motor coordination assessments

Stereotypic movement disorder and Tic disorders

Evidence from an appropriate health professional. Ideally, the SPO Health Professional Statement should contain the following details:

  • clinical assessments, diagnosis (if available) and date of diagnosis
  • consultation history, presenting symptoms, description of severity and expected duration
  • treatment period and plan (if available)
  • comments on how the condition would impact on the student’s day-to-day functioning in the classroom and learning
  • comments on the likely effect of the condition on the student’s capacity to complete VCE external assessments.

Vision impairment

  • Supporting evidence from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or from the Educational Vision Assessment Clinic (EVAC)
  • Supporting information and recommendations from a specialist teacher from the Visiting Teacher Service

Deaf and hard of hearing

Evidence from a qualified practitioner indicating the type of hearing loss including:

  • an unaided audiogram and report
  • supporting information and recommendations from a specialist teacher from the Visiting Teacher Service or school for hearing-impaired students