Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In Skip to Content

Section 15 – Special Provision

Special Provision

1 Special Provision within the VCE and VCAL

The VCAA Special Provision policy aims to provide students in defined circumstances with the opportunity to participate in and complete their secondary level studies.

The underlying principle of the VCAA Special Provision Policy is to ensure that the most appropriate, fair and reasonable options are available for students to demonstrate their capabilities if their learning and assessment programs are affected by disability, illness, impairment or other circumstances. Special Provision should provide equivalent, alternative arrangements for students, but not confer an advantage to any student over other students.

Although there is no limit on the period of time allowed for a student to achieve the VCE or VCAL, the provisions available seek to help a student complete the requirements in a timeframe comparable with their peers.

Individual students may need special provisions in their learning program to achieve the learning outcomes, and in assessment to demonstrate their learning and achievement.

At the same time, students who have been granted Special Provision are not exempt from meeting the requirements for satisfactory completion of the VCE or VCAL, or from being assessed against the outcomes for a study. Students are still required to demonstrate their achievement fairly in meeting the outcomes of the study design as well as completing School-based Assessments and VCE external assessments.

Similarly, the programs and assessment tasks designed for VCAL students should allow each student to successfully complete the learning program without compromising the expectations of each of the components of the program in accordance with course requirements.

Specific eligibility criteria apply to the granting of Special Provision for the VCE or VCAL.

1.1 Types of Special Provision

Special Provision is available to students completing the VCE or VCAL for classroom learning, School-based Assessment and VCE external assessments.

Specific eligibility requirements apply for each type of Special Provision.

For classroom learning and School-based Assessment, the school is primarily responsible for determining eligibility and the nature of the provisions granted. Schools are encouraged to consult the VCAA if they are unsure about appropriate arrangements. The school’s policies and procedures should be clearly documented and communicated to students. It is strongly recommended that schools keep records of all decisions made for each student.

For VCE external assessments, which include all VCE examinations, the Extended Investigation Critical Thinking Test and oral presentation and the General Achievement Test (GAT), the VCAA is responsible for determining eligibility and for granting approval in the form of Special Examination Arrangements and the Derived Examination Score (DES).

1.2 Eligibility for Special Provision

Students may be eligible for Special Provision if, at any time, they are adversely affected in a significant way by:

  • an acute or chronic illness (physical or psychological)
  • factors relating to personal circumstance
  • an impairment or disability, including a learning disorder.

These circumstances do not include matters or situations of the student’s choosing, such as involvement in social or sporting activities or school events.

Prolonged absence from school or study is not grounds for Special Provision. However, provisions are available to students experiencing severe hardship that may result in prolonged absence.

Students granted Special Provision must still complete all school work related to satisfactory completion of the outcomes of a VCE or VCAL unit. Students absent from school for prolonged periods must still comply with the school’s authentication procedures to demonstrate that they have completed the work and that the work is their own.

Students who are eligible for integration funding may not necessarily meet the eligibility criteria for Special Provision in the VCE or VCAL.

English as an Additional Language

Students who have been granted English as an Additional Language (EAL) status on the basis of unfamiliarity with the English language are not eligible for Special Provision on this basis alone, unless they qualify for EAL status because of deafness or hearing loss.

Intellectual disability

The principal has the discretion to approve the enrolment of students with an intellectual disability in the VCE and VCAL. The VCAA does not place restrictions on this discretion. The principal is responsible for advising students of the likelihood of successfully achieving the published unit outcomes and for deciding appropriate arrangements at the school level.

If a student will be unable to succeed within the specified framework of the VCE or VCAL, it may be more appropriate for the student to undertake a parallel, individualised teaching and learning program rather than enrol in VCE or VCAL studies. This strategy allows the student to participate in class with their peers and continue social engagement, and is more likely to eventuate in a positive outcome. In this case, the school would issue its own report on the student’s individual achievement.

An integration support group within the school may advise the principal that formal enrolment in either a full or restricted VCE or VCAL program is the most appropriate action. In either case, the school decides the most appropriate program for the student.

The VCAA does not approve Special Examination Arrangements solely on the grounds of an intellectual disability.

1.3 Management of students requiring Special Provision

If a student requires Special Provision but is still deemed to be at risk of not being able to meet either the unit outcomes or satisfactory completion of the VCE or VCAL, the school should develop a management plan. One of the first steps in developing a management plan should be the establishment of a support group to help the student in undertaking the VCE or VCAL. Ideally, this support group should be established in the years before the commencement of VCE or VCAL. Similarly, if a student becomes chronically unwell during the course of their VCE or VCAL, a support group should be established.

The establishment of a support group also provides a focus for the administrative aspects of managing the student’s program of study. In addition, a support group allows for a formal structure through which decisions are made and actions verified. Involvement with a support group presents teachers with an opportunity to become better informed about the medical or personal situations of students.

A support group may include the student, a parent of the student, teacher/s or others nominated as having responsibility for the student, and any aides of the student. If appropriate, the support group should seek the advice of specialist consultants. The principal must ensure that advice from the support group is considered and implemented if it is judged to be consistent with VCE or VCAL policy.

Choosing a program of studies

The school, through the support group, should provide advice to the student to help them choose a program of studies. Such advice should encourage the choice of interesting and challenging studies, taking into consideration the nature of the student’s hardship and maximising their opportunity to learn. If a student with a disability wants to undertake a study where, given the student’s particular disability, it will be problematic for the student to demonstrate the unit outcomes, the restraints and difficulties of proceeding with the study need to be made clear to the student. The expected time for completion of the program should be taken into consideration. If it is anticipated that a student will need deadline extensions to complete work, students may be advised to enrol in fewer units in a given year.

Use of assistive technology

In developing the study program, schools should consider the role of technology in terms of how it could be used to enhance the learning process. For some students the use of technology is a requirement to effectively access education. Every effort should be made to ensure that facilities and technology are available to help students achieve the objectives or learning outcomes of a unit.

While the use of technology in learning strategies is encouraged, the use of new and emerging technologies should first be discussed with the VCAA, to avoid using technology that is not appropriate or suitable for use in a VCE external assessment as part of Special Examination Arrangements; if this is the case, the use of the technology for School-based Assessment may need to be reconsidered. The technology used for School-based Assessments should be consistent with what the student will be allowed to use in a VCE external assessment.

Assistance from aides

Students may require assistance from an aide in order to effectively engage in the process of learning. If this is required, other assessment provisions, such as additional time to complete tasks, may be required. Assistance from aides may take the form of, for example, a reader, a clarifier or a scribe, depending on the nature of the student’s circumstance. Generally, this provision is for students with long-term disabilities.

A student’s current aide is not eligible to be appointed as a reader, a clarifier, a scribe, an interpreter or a supervisor in a VCE external assessment, unless in exceptional circumstances. The VCAA Special Provision team can provide further advice.

Deferral of VCE studies

Students completing a VCE study at Unit 3 and 4 level may be eligible for Compassionate Late Withdrawal if they are suffering major adverse circumstances and are unable to complete Unit 3.

Students who are unable to complete Unit 4 because of adverse circumstances should consider an application for Interrupted Studies.

2 Special Provision: Classroom learning and School-based Assessment

Schools may approve special provisions and arrangements for both classroom learning and School-based Assessments. The VCAA recognises that school personnel, because of their knowledge of individual students and their circumstances, can sensitively vary the school assessment programs to accommodate student circumstances.

Schools should consult the VCAA if they are unsure about evidence and/or appropriate arrangements and may opt to submit a formal early application for Special Examination Arrangements (from Year 9) which will provide clarity and certainty about what provisions are appropriate. The VCAA recommends that schools approve arrangements for classroom learning and School-based Assessments that are consistent with the Special Examination Arrangements likely to be approved by the VCAA.

Students who are suffering long-term conditions and have not been granted arrangements by the school for classroom learning and School-based Assessments may not be eligible for similar Special Examination Arrangements for these long-term conditions.

The VCAA requires schools to maintain records of their decisions.

2.1 Eligibility for Special Provision for classroom learning and School-based Assessment

Students are eligible for Special Provision for classroom learning and School-based Assessment if their ability to demonstrate achievement is adversely affected by:

  • an acute or chronic illness
  • a long-term impairment or disability
  • personal circumstances.

Decisions on whether to approve special provisions for classroom learning or School-based Assessment is a school decision, must be based on evidence and made using a range of appropriate sources including professional testing and reports, educational assessments and teacher observations.

2.2 Strategies

Course completion

There are a number of ways in which schools can make alternative arrangements to assist students with their learning and enable them to be assessed against the unit outcomes, including:

  • rescheduling classroom activities and/or an assessment task
  • allowing the student extra time to complete work or an assessment task
  • setting a substitute task of the same type
  • replacing a task with a different type
  • using a planned task to assess more outcomes, or aspects of outcomes, than originally intended
  • using technology, aides or other special arrangements to complete classroom learning and/or undertake assessment tasks
  • deriving satisfactory completion of outcomes or a score from other assessments or work in the particular study completed by the student (if the provisions already mentioned are not feasible or reasonable).

The decision made by the school needs to reflect the best interests of the student and should be based on the available medical or other professional advice.

Students who are granted an extension of time are required to complete the work and undertake the task in the same way as other students.

Rescheduling classroom activities and/or an assessment task

Learning or tasks that have been missed through illness or other serious cause may be rescheduled. If a student has been absent for prolonged periods through illness or other serious cause, they should not be overloaded on their return to school with the classroom learning they have missed and/or scheduled or rescheduled tasks. Careful consideration needs to be given to the management of the student’s workload.

Allowing the student extra time to complete work or an assessment task

In some cases the school may decide to allow the student extra time to complete work. Additional time may be given immediately after the specific class, at the end of the school day, or during free time during the day, or the student may take work home to complete. If an assessment task is undertaken outside the usual class time, the student must sign the appropriate VASS Authentication Record form.

The conditions for which an extension of time may be approved should be consistent for all VCE and VCAL units within the school, and given in writing to students. An extension of time may extend from Semester 1 to Semester 2, but not into the next academic year. Flexibility exists within the VCAL for students who require more time to complete the work. Extensions of time must not exceed the deadlines for the reporting of results to the VCAA.

When granting extra time to students for specific activities associated with classroom activities or an assessment task held under test conditions, it is important to keep in mind whether an application for Special Examination Arrangements has been approved for a student requesting additional time for one or more of their VCE external assessments.

If a school plans to submit an application for Special Examination Arrangements requesting additional time for a student with a long-term condition, it is important for the school to initially trial this arrangement during classroom activities. At the same time the VCAA strongly recommends schools contact the VCAA Special Provision team to discuss the student’s history and the appropriateness of this type of provision before an application is submitted, preferably well before the student begins studies at senior secondary level.

Setting a substitute task of the same type

Another task of the same type can be set, for example a case study on the same topic but with different questions, or an essay on the same issue but with a different contention.

Replacing a task with a different type

Another task can be chosen from the assessment task types specified in a study design. If alternatives are available, the assessment tasks must be of comparable scope and demand. Where the task type is specified, schools may devise a task that is of comparable scope and demand; for example a 1000-word essay may not be replaced with five multiple-choice questions as this is not comparable.

Using a planned task to assess more outcomes, or aspects of outcomes, than originally intended

Schools may use a single task to allow a student to demonstrate the achievement of more than one of the learning outcomes for a study.

Using assistive technology, aides or other special arrangements to complete classroom learning and/or undertake assessment tasks

Every effort should be made to ensure that facilities and assistive technology are available to enable students to participate in classroom learning and access all assessment tasks in their study program.

Computers, specialist software, recording devices and other technology can be made available to help students to complete work. If word-processing software is used, a spell-check may be activated as part of its operation. Other specialist equipment used in conjunction with computers is encouraged for students who are vision impaired. Audio equipment may also be used to supply assessment tasks to students who cannot access text (for example, students with vision impairment). If new technology has become available, and the school intends to apply for Special Examination Arrangements, the VCAA should be contacted to ensure that proposed technology is considered appropriate and suitable for use in VCE external assessments.

Students with a physical disability or other impairment may receive assistance from an aide in both classroom learning and when completing a task in order to demonstrate achievement of a learning outcome. Such assistance may include an aide’s recording or participating on behalf of the student in a laboratory or field activity or physical activities. Students may also use a scribe, a clarifier, assistive technology or other arrangements to complete work or tasks. If a school knows that a student requires Special Examination Arrangements, it should trial the same arrangements in classroom activities and School-based Assessments. Schools are encouraged to contact the VCAA if they are unsure about appropriate arrangements.

For classroom learning, a scribe who is familiar to the student can be used. However, for School-based Assessments, scribes may not be closely associated with the students, and students requiring scribes will need to be supervised separately. If such arrangements are made, the principal should ensure that the VCAA procedures for authentication have been implemented, and that the teacher is able to attest, to the best of their knowledge, that all unacknowledged work is the student’s own.

Practical tasks for performing or for visual arts may not be undertaken by an aide.

Deriving satisfactory completion of outcomes from other assessments or work completed by the student

Satisfactory completion of an outcome may be determined based on other work completed by the student in the study. The result may be determined at the time, or later in the period over which the unit is conducted, depending on the availability of work on which determination is to be based.

It is important for schools to record how such results are determined. A student needs to have completed sufficient work to enable teachers to make a reliable and fair judgment.

Deriving scores from other assessments or work completed by the student

If an extension or substitute task is not feasible or reasonable, or if the task is difficult to duplicate, a score may be derived from other assessments undertaken, or work completed in the study, by the student. The score may be determined at the time, or later in the period over which the graded assessment is conducted, depending on the availability or range of assessments on which determination is to be based.

It is important for schools to record how scores are derived. A student needs to have completed sufficient work to enable teachers to make a reliable and fair assessment. The final score given to the student takes into account the student’s circumstances and their overall level of achievement relative to other students in the school.

School-assessed Tasks, Music Style and Composition Externally-assessed Task, and Extended Investigation Externally-assessed Task Written Report

Some VCE studies require completion of a folio, production item or research report. Students who may be injured, ill or experiencing adverse personal circumstances during the time designated by the school for the completion of these types of tasks should be encouraged to complete the task.

The school could consider a range of options for the student, including:

  • allowing an extension of time for the student to complete the task, but within the timeframe for the school to lodge the score by the relevant VCAA submission date. If the student is given an extension, but the work is still not complete by the due date, it should be assessed by the teacher as it is and that score sent to the VCAA
  • contacting the VCAA (via a letter from the principal) for permission to allow the student an extension of time to complete the task that will enable a score to be submitted after the VCAA submission date. A VASS Score Amendment Sheet (SAS) must be lodged when the score becomes available
  • allowing the student to complete the task in an agreed extended timeline for satisfactory completion purposes only; that is, if the student receives an S result for the VCE unit outcome, but is awarded a score of NA (not assessed) for the task
  • deriving a score for the task based on work completed and/or other assessments.

3 Special Examination Arrangements for VCE external assessments

3.1 Eligibility for Special Examination Arrangements

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 its policies.

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.

In designing and approving Special Examination Arrangements, the VCAA is mindful of the need to balance the competing demands of providing students with the opportunity to perform at their optimum and the academic integrity of the assessment process.

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 the basis of independent professional and/or educational and academic assessments, any school-based evidence and recommendations provided with the application, and the VCAA’s assessment.

Disability and/or illness does not automatically entitle a student to Special Examination Arrangements. The prime consideration is the impact of a disability and/or illness on the student’s capacity to undertake their VCE external assessments and, if necessary, what reasonable adjustments can be made to enable the student to complete VCE external assessments on the same basis as students without a disability and/or illness.

The professional, educational and academic assessments, along with school-based evidence, will be considered by the VCAA on a case-by-case basis. The VCAA will make a decision based on all evidence received with an 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 be eligible for or require special provision.

Early engagement allows schools to discuss interventions and implement appropriate provisions for school-based assessments, in the years preceding VCE, to ensure they are consistent with Special Examination Arrangements likely to be approved for VCE external assessments.

For long term or permanent conditions, it may be appropriate for a school to submit a formal early application for Special Examination Arrangements from Year 9 onwards. Evidence requirements for early applications are consistent with applications submitted on behalf of students enrolled in one or more VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3–4 sequences.

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 one or more VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3–4 sequences and allows schools to implement these provisions from Year 9 onwards.

Any advice given or decisions made by the VCAA in relation to early engagement or formal early applications will need to 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 first VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3–4 sequence 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 condition that presents episodic symptoms, the VCAA may require updated and timely evidence at particular stages during the student’s secondary schooling. At the same time, other evidence/cognitive assessments will not be required to be submitted again.

Schools should contact VCAA Special Provision on 1800 205 455 to discuss procedures associated with submitting a formal early application.

3.2 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. 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 for Special Examination Arrangements can generally expect that these arrangements will be replicated for any additional VCE Units 3–4 sequences undertaken in subsequent years. The VCAA reserves the right to request additional and/or updated evidence when it is deemed necessary. Students with health impairments or a mental health condition may be required to submit current medical evidence pertinent to each assessment period.

What schools need to do

Schools are responsible for identifying who may be eligible for special provision for both School-based Assessments and VCE examinations. 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.

Schools must consider individual student’s circumstances, any existing special provisions for classroom learning and/or School-based Assessments, teacher observations and professional evidence when determining which Special Examination Arrangements to apply for.

The VCAA recommends that special provisions at the school level are consistent with those likely to be approved by the VCAA. Special provisions approved by the school may not necessarily meet the eligibility criteria established by the VCAA for Special Examination Arrangements. The fact that a school has approved special provisions for a student’s classroom learning and/or School-based Assessments is insufficient grounds for seeking such arrangements for VCE external assessments without the appropriate supporting evidence.

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

Applications for Special Examination Arrangements need to be made to the VCAA through the student’s school using the VCAA’s Special Provision Online (SPO) system by the closing date.

What the VCAA will do

To enable an informed professional judgment, the VCAA will not process an application until all the relevant evidence has been supplied. If necessary, the VCAA will contact schools to request additional information.

In processing Special Examination Arrangements applications, the VCAA will establish an expert Special Examination Arrangements panel, comprised of educational psychologists, medical practitioners, senior examination assessors and other relevant professionals, to assist VCAA staff with decisions.

The VCAA reserves the right to seek additional information from the school or any of the professionals named in an application.

The VCAA’s decision regarding Special Examination Arrangements approved and/or denied will be communicated to the school via email.

The school is responsible for communicating the decision to the student.

If an application has been denied, a new application may be submitted if there is a new diagnosis or evidence that an existing condition has deteriorated.

3.3 Administering approved Special Examination Arrangements

Schools must ensure a copy of any approved Special Examination Arrangements are distributed to the student, relevant school personnel (i.e., 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.

3.4 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 the 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.

As it does with all its Special Examination Arrangements decisions, the VCAA will apply consistent criteria when assessing emergency applications.

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 must still be provided.

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.

3.5 Appealing a decision

Schools may appeal a VCAA decision. Appeals must be submitted in writing 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, including any other professional’s letter of support, educational and academic tests not previously submitted, and/or school-based evidence and observations.

The VCAA will establish an independent panel to review any new evidence submitted with the original application. 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.

3.6 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 ‘unlimited rest breaks’ to facilitate management of a significant medical or physical condition.

Students may decide how to manage their 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 face down 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

If the use of a scribe (or electronic scribe), reader (or electronic reader) or clarifier has been approved by the VCAA, a student must complete their external assessment in a separate examination room.

Where a student is completing their external assessment in a separate room, a supervisor must be present.

Where a school is requesting a separate room for two or more students in the same examination session and the students have the same or similar conditions, a request can be made to seat these students in the same room.

Consent must be attained from both the parents/guardians and students before requesting this provision.

Use of computers 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.

The school must:
  • only allow a student the use of a computer and/or assistive technology if the VCAA has approved such provision for their external assessment
  • supply a stand-alone computer 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 and any other equipment to be used on the day of the external assessment are functioning properly
  • supply one memory device per external assessment. Please ensure that no other information is contained on the memory device
  • clearly label the memory device with the following:
  • name of the external assessment
  • VCAA student number
  • centre number.
The supervisor must:
  • watch the computer screen at all times to check that the student is not accessing any other programs or documents
  • 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 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 and the response materials are returned inside the gold envelope
  • clearly label the memory device with the VCAA student number and external assessment name.
Students:
  • must use a stand-alone computer 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 access the dictionary function in examinations where a dictionary is allowed
  • may access the spell-checker 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.

Small group rooms

Where a school has two or more students undertaking an examination in the same session, that have the same or similar approved Special Examination Arrangements, can at their discretion choose to seat these students in the same room with appropriate supervision.

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.

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.

Supervisors must:Students must:
  • (where applicable) allow a student the use of a computer with assistive technology if the VCAA has approved such provision for their external assessment
  • 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 and reader software as required during their external assessment. 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 10 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.

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.

Electronic scribes

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

Supervisors must:Students must:
  • allow a student the use of a computer 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 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 and scribing software as required during their external assessment. 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 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.

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. However, 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. Again, the clarifier must not offer alternatives for ‘study specific’ words or terms.
  • definition of one or more words in a question. However 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. Again, 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.

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/disorder is given to the supervisor and the clarifier. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the instructions are followed.

The supervisor, in addition to the clarifier, 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 interpreter should:

  • be fluent in both English and Auslan
  • have a familiarity with the subject matter being examined
  • have patience and sensitivity to the student’s requirements
  • remain impartial and objective and respect confidentiality.

The role of the 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 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.

Interpreters cannot add or omit information or modify the original message. 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 because Braille and some other alternative format papers are unavailable for that external assessment.

Alternative examination venues

Only in exceptional circumstances will the VCAA approve for a student to sit an external assessment at an alternative venue, for example, at home or in hospital. Such circumstances would include cases of infectious disease or serious 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.

3.7 Special Provision categories, evidence requirements 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.

Evidence requirements

An application for Special Examination Arrangements for a mental health condition must be substantiated with evidence from the primary treating health professional working within a relevant area of mental health, who has made a comprehensive assessment of the student, seen the student recently for their condition, and is not related to them.

The professional evidence must be completed in the year of the application and be signed and dated by the treating professional, and contain the following details:

  • clinical assessments, diagnosis (if available), date of diagnosis
  • consultation history, presenting symptoms
  • treatment period and plan (if available)
  • description of severity; the impact of the student’s mental health condition on learning and assessment
  • the school-based evidence – detailing the history of special provisions approved by the school over the period of the condition.

The VCAA reserves the right to request additional evidence, if necessary.

Appropriate provisions

The overwhelming consensus among professionals who 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 appropriate professional and school-based evidence.

ConditionPossible difficulties under test conditionsPossible arrangements
Anxiety disordersConcentration difficulties, anxiety preventing performance in group situationsRest breaks, permission to take medication, separate room
Attention-deficit and disruptive behaviour disordersConcentration and difficulty with impulse controlRest breaks, permission to take medication, separate room
Eating disorder (Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa) Fatigue, concentration difficulties, need to accommodate eating plans Rest breaks, permission to take medication, separate room
DepressionConcentration difficulties, difficulties remembering and making decisions, fatigue and tiredness Rest breaks
Bipolar disorderFatigue, restlessness, irritability, disorganised behaviour, difficulty with memory and concentrationRest breaks, separate room, extra working time
SchizophreniaMemory loss, mental confusion, slowness in activity, fatigue Rest breaks, extra working time, separate room
Obsessive Compulsive DisorderRecurrent unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behavioursRest breaks

Requests for extra working time

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

  • the results of any psychological testing previously administered, such as Conners 3, Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF – prior to 2018 or BRIEF2), NEPSY II: A Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment, second edition
  • a health professional statement outlining the symptoms and why extra writing time is required
  • 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.

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

Health impairment or physical disability

Evidence requirements

An application for Special Examination Arrangements based on either health impairment or a physical disability must be substantiated with evidence from an appropriate health professional who has treated the student for the condition.

Professional evidence must be completed in the year of the application, be signed and dated by the treating professional, and contain the following details:

  • a diagnosis
  • the date of diagnosis
  • a brief history
  • comments on the 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
  • the school-based evidence – detailing the history of special provisions approved by the school over the period of the condition.

The VCAA reserves the right to request additional evidence, if deemed necessary.

Appropriate provisions

Please note the following:

  • An application for the use of a separate room will only be considered where strongly supported by appropriate professional evidence.
  • If the application is for extra working time, a scribe or the use of computer and/or assistive technology, students will be required to complete the required essays as outlined in Written Expression – requests for extra working time, computer or scribe and/or assistive technology.
ConditionPossible difficulties under test conditionsPossible arrangements
Autism spectrum disorderConcentration difficultiesRest breaks, separate room, permission to leave examination room under supervision
Back injury/chronic painPain and/or discomfort due to injury, problems with prolonged sittingRest breaks, permission to take medication, permission to stand and stretch
Crohn’s diseasePain and/or discomfortRest breaks, permission to leave room under supervision
Chronic fatigue syndrome (for example, post-viral fatigue syndrome), myalgic encephalomyelitis, glandular feverTiredness/inability to concentrate due to illnessRest breaks, permission to take medication
DiabetesNeed to check blood sugar levelsPermission to take food and/or drink into the examination, permission to take medication, permission to leave examination room under supervision, rest breaks
EpilepsyMay suffer from epileptic seizure during examinationsPermission to take medication, separate room
Hand/wrist/arm/shoulder injuryDifficulty writing due to pain or discomfort in the hand and/or arm, excessive fatigue in the handRest breaks, extra working time, a computer or a scribe
Acquired brain injuries Mental processing difficulty or slownessRest breaks, permission to take medication
Pregnancy or early infant careIn hospital for birth, breastfeedingRest breaks, feeding breaks, separate room, hospital supervision
Muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.
Muscle weakness, restrictive use of limbs, communication difficultiesPermission to stand and/or stretch, permission to take medication, separate room, extra working time, computer, assistive technology, use of an scribe/aide, alternative examination paper

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.

A 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 Provisions to discuss individual applications.

Evidence requirements

The VCAA has assessed and approved the following tests for determining eligibility for Special Examination Arrangements.

Cognitive Assessment (IQ tests)

A cognitive assessment, administered no earlier than the student’s last year of primary schooling (Year 6), is a mandatory requirement. The test must be administered by a registered psychologist. The VCAA will accept any of the following cognitive assessments for determining eligibility for Special Examination Arrangements:

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) V or IV
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) IV
  • Woodcock Johnson (WJ) IV or III
  • Stanford Binet V or IV (if test administered in 2017 or earlier).

A copy of the cognitive assessment report administered by an appropriately qualified professional registered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is required. The report should include subtest scaled scores, along with an interpretation of assessment results.

Impairment in reading – requests for extra working time, reader and/or assistive technology

The VCAA has adopted the following criteria to determine the suitability of tests to measure reading ability. The test should be:

  • silent-reading comprehension (this reflects the silent reading conditions of an examination)
  • timed
  • published with Australian norms.

The VCAA must be able to access the test and its normative data.

The purpose of such a reading test is to establish if a student’s reading level is significantly below what is expected of an average Year 12 student.

The current prescribed reading test is the Progressive Achievement Test in Reading (PAT-R), published by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The VCAA will accept results from Comprehension Booklet 10 (edition 4 or 5).

Evidence of a student’s reading comprehension skills must be based on a test administered no earlier than the year the student commences the VCE or Term 4 of the year prior.

The results of the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) or other reading tests administered, if available, can be submitted by schools as additional evidence.

Impairment in written expression – requests for extra working time, use of computer, scribe and/or assistive technology

The VCAA completes an assessment of a student’s level of written expression involving an analysis of several variables, including the following:

  • thought and content
  • structure and organisation
  • expression and/or language
  • handwriting
  • productivity
  • spelling
  • punctuation.

Requests for extra working time require Essays One and Two with the completed Essay cover sheets as outlined in the following sections.

Requests for the use of a computer, assistive technology or a scribe require Essays One, Two and Three with the completed Essay cover sheets as outlined in the following sections.

Essay One

The topic for this essay is supplied by the VCAA and must be completed according to the following conditions:

  • strictly five minutes’ reading time and 30 minutes’ writing time are to be provided
  • no special provisions are to be used for this essay.

Essay Two

This essay should be a copy of a handwritten English or Literature essay from an assessment that the student has recently completed (within six months) at school. It must have been for either a School-based Assessment or a school examination, have had a writing time of at least one hour with Special Provision permitted.

Essay Two must have been marked with teacher comments and observations, and the teacher’s grading should be indicated.

The essay topic, the time taken for this essay, the date of the assessment and details of any approved Special Provision used by the student should be recorded on the Essay Two Cover Sheet.

The essay must not be a short-answer response or have been written in another language. If the student is completing a Unit 3–4 sequence that does not involve extended responses or essays, the VCAA will accept an English examination or similar assessment from Term 4 of the year prior.

Essay Three (typed or using assistive technology or scribed)

The topic for this essay will be supplied by the VCAA and must be completed according to the following conditions:

  • if typed or using assistive technology, strictly five minutes’ reading time and 30 minutes’ typing time should be provided
  • if scribed, strictly five minutes’ reading time and 35 minutes’ scribing time should be provided
  • apart from the computer and/or assistive technology or use of a scribe, no additional special provisions (for example, extra time) should be used for this essay.

Essay administration

Essay Cover Sheets have further details of the specific requirements for administering the essays.

Essays should be completed at school and supervised by school staff. The supervising teacher must remain with the student until the task is completed to observe the student and ensure that the time restrictions are observed.

All essays are to be completed under examination conditions (no assistance or prompting from the supervising teacher). The supervising teacher should complete all relevant information on the essay cover sheet, including if the essay and result is reflective of the student’s normal working level.

Mathematics – requests for extra working time, use of computer and/or assistive technology

The following evidence is required in support of applications for Special Examination Arrangements for an impairment in mathematics or requests for extra writing time for mathematics examinations on the basis of a deficit in written expression:

  • examples of mathematics assessments completed at school by the student – with and/or without special provisions, detailing any provisions utilised by the student and time taken
  • study specific teacher observations of student difficulties during assessments and in class.

Appropriate provisions

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

Use of a computer

Use of assistive technology

A student may be approved extra working time on the basis of:

  • an impairment in reading (10 minutes per hour)
  • an impairment in written expression (10 minutes per hour) and/or
  • an impairment in mathematics (10 minutes per hour).

The VCAA will consider requests for additional time in excess of 10 minutes per hour for any of the above impairments where it can be clearly demonstrated, through professional and/or school-based evidence, that there is a compelling need for the additional time.

Extra working time approved by the VCAA is to be used in addition to the ‘scheduled writing time’ of the VCE external assessment.

A student with a severe reading disability may be approved the use of a reader or electronic reader.

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 (i.e. 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 sentences 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 to determine whether these difficulties cannot be better attributed to hearing or another sensory impairment, motor dysfunction and another medical or neurological condition. Equally it is important to consider whether the language difficulties are not better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay.

The difficulties identified would need to be substantially and quantifiably below those for the student’s grade level and would 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.

Evidence requirements

The following evidence is required to support all applications for Special Examination Arrangements for a student with a language disorder:

Cognitive Assessment (IQ tests) (mandatory requirement)

A cognitive assessment, administered no earlier than the student’s last year of primary schooling, (Year 6), is a mandatory requirement. The test must be administered by a registered psychologist. The VCAA will accept any of the following cognitive assessments for determining eligibility for Special Examination Arrangements:

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) V or IV
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) IV
  • Woodcock Johnson (WJ) IV or III
  • Stanford Binet V or IV (if test administered in 2017 or earlier).

A copy of the cognitive assessment report administered by an appropriately qualified professional registered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is required. The report should include subtest scaled scores, along with an interpretation of assessment results.

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF) fifth-edition assessment (mandatory requirement) administered in either the year the student commences the VCE or in Term 4 of the year prior.

Progressive Achievement Test in Reading (edition 4 or 5) Test Booklet 10 (mandatory requirement); administered no earlier than the year the student commences the VCE or Term 4 of the year prior.

Requests for extra working time require:

  • Essays One and Two with the completed Essay cover sheets

Requests for the use of a computer, a scribe or assistive technology require:

  • Essays One, Two and Three with the completed Essay cover sheets

Requests for use of a clarifier require:

  • Essays One and Two with the completed Essay cover sheets
  • information outlining the history of the student’s use of and need for a clarifier.

Appropriate provisions

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)

The VCAA will consider requests for additional time in excess of 10 minutes per hour for a student with a language disorder where it can be clearly demonstrated, through professional and/or school-based evidence, that there is a compelling need for the additional time.

Extra working time approved by the VCAA is to be used in addition to the ‘scheduled writing time’ of the VCE external assessment.

Motor coordination disorders

Definition

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

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

The diagnosis of a Motor 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 neurological condition affecting movement (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disorder – these conditions should be applied for under the Physical Disability category).

Evidence requirements

One of the below Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) assessments administered no earlier than the student’s final year of primary schooling (i.e. Grade 6).

  • DASH 9–16 years, Pearson, 2007
  • DASH 17 years, Pearson, 2010.

A copy of the motor coordination report administered by an appropriately qualified professional registered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) must be attached.

Requests for additional working time require Essays One and Two with completed VCAA prescribed cover sheets.

Requests for the use of a computer, a scribe and/or assistive technology require Essays One, Two and Three with completed VCAA prescribed cover sheets.

While not mandatory, the VCAA will consider other motor coordination assessments, in addition to school observations, as supplementary evidence where there is a request for extra working time, use of a computer, scribe and/or assistive technology on the basis of handwriting difficulties. Examples include:

  • The Handwriting Speed Test, Wallen, Bonney and Lennox, 2006
  • The Beery Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, sixth edition (Beery VMI), Pearson, 2010.

Appropriate provisions

Motor Coordination Disorder (possible provisions based on functional impact on the student)

Rest breaks

Extra working time

Use of a computer

Permission to use a scribe

Use of assistive technology, such as voice-to-text software

Deaf and hard of hearing

Evidence requirements

The VCAA requires the following evidence to support an application for Special Examination Arrangements for a student who is deaf or hard of hearing:

  • a recent unaided audiogram and report from a qualified practitioner (for example, an ear, nose and throat specialist or audiologist) indicating a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and/or conductive hearing loss that is moderate, severe or profound
  • a support statement with comments and recommendations from a specialist teacher, along with confirmation of the student’s enrolment in either the Visiting Teacher Service or a deaf facility or school.

If this evidence is not available, the VCAA may contact the student’s school to request other educational and testing information.

Appropriate provisions

Deaf and hard of hearing (possible provisions based on functional impact on the student)

Extra working time

Use of a clarifier

Microlink assistive technology

Access to audio-video stimulus (e.g. English as an Additional Language written examination Listening to texts section)

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 is unlikely to be approved if the student:

  • does not regularly use a clarifier or
  • is not 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

Evidence requirements

The VCAA requires the following evidence to support an application for Special Examination Arrangements for a student with vision impairment:

  • evidence of a moderate or severe vision impairment from either an ophthalmologist or the Educational Vision Assessment Clinic (EVAC)
  • a supporting statement with comments and recommendations from a specialist teacher, along with confirmation of the student’s enrolment with the Visiting Teacher Service.

If this evidence is not available, the VCAA may contact the student’s school to request other educational and testing information.

If an alternative format examination paper is required (for example, large print, Braille, electronic examination), a specific request with details of font type, font sizes, format and any other recommendations from specialists should be clearly outlined for each external assessment in the application.

Appropriate provisions

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

4 Derived Examination Scores

Students who are ill or affected by other personal circumstances at the time of a VCE external assessment and whose result is unlikely to be a fair or accurate indication of their learning or achievement in the study may apply for a DES. If their application is approved, a Derived Examination Score (DES) will be calculated by the VCAA.

The purpose of a DES is to ensure that a student’s final result for an external assessment reflects as accurately as possible the level of achievement that would be expected based on the learning and achievement the student has demonstrated in the study over the year.

A DES should not be used to compensate for learning or achievement that has not been possible because of long-term illness or other ongoing conditions that have been present over the year. If an illness or personal circumstance has been so severe that a student has not been coping with the demands of the VCE, Compassionate Late Withdrawal or Interrupted Studies status should be considered.

Students who experience the onset of an illness or the occurrence of an injury or personal trauma around an assessment period should discuss, with their VCE coordinator, a school application for Emergency Special Examination Arrangements, which may help them sit their VCE external assessments.

A DES is not available for the GAT, Music Style and Composition Externally-assessed Task or Extended Investigation Externally-assessed Task written report.

4.1 Eligibility for a DES

Students are eligible for a DES if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They have completed the course of study leading to the external assessment, and have a result for at least one other graded assessment in the same study.
  • They experience the onset of an illness or the occurrence of an injury, personal trauma or serious intervening event in the period before or during a VCE external assessment, that has either prevented them from attending the external assessment or significantly affected their performance during the external assessment.
  • They provide independent professional written evidence that demonstrates the illness, injury, personal trauma or serious intervening event has affected their performance in the external assessment or has prevented them from attending the external assessment.

A ‘personal trauma’ may include, but is not limited to, the death or serious illness or an accident involving a family member, or family break-up.

A ‘serious intervening event’ may include, but is not limited to, an accident on the way to or at an examination, attendance at a funeral of a family member or other person of close relationship, or the required attendance at a court proceeding. Students cannot submit an application on the basis of:

  • unfamiliarity with the English language
  • teacher absence or other teacher-related difficulties
  • long-term or chronic condition or illness
  • matters that could have been avoided by the student, for example misreading the examination timetable or instructions, or matters related to school discipline
  • matters of the student’s own choosing, such as involvement in social events, sporting or training activities, school events or volunteer work.

4.2 Evidence required for a DES application

The student must provide evidence that demonstrates one of the following:

  • they were unable to perform on the external assessment at a level that accurately reflects their expected level of achievement in the study
  • they were prevented from attending the external assessment.

Applications on the grounds of illness or injury must be substantiated with evidence from an independent health professional.

Applications on the grounds of personal trauma must be substantiated with evidence from one of the following:

  • an independent health professional
  • a social worker or member of the clergy.

Applications on the grounds of a serious intervening event must be substantiated with independent evidence from one of the following:

  • an independent health professional
  • a social worker or a member of the clergy
  • a police officer, a solicitor or a funeral parlour operator.

In all circumstances, the person providing the evidence must have specific knowledge of the illness, injury, personal trauma or serious intervening event; must not be related to or have a close personal relationship with the student; and must have been professionally associated with the student’s situation.

Evidence from school-based personnel must be supported by appropriate medical or professional evidence. The following conditions apply to each external assessment included in a DES application:

  • If the student attended the external assessment, the person providing the evidence must have examined or treated the student or have been consulted by the student in a timely period before or after the external assessment. It is expected that a timely consultation would occur in the period from two days before the external assessment to one day after the external assessment.
  • If the student did not attend the external assessment, the person providing the evidence must have examined or treated the student or have been consulted by the student in a timely period as close as possible to the day before the external assessment or on the same day as the external assessment. In the case of illness or injury, there must be a specific written recommendation from an independent health professional recommending non-attendance at the external assessment. In the case of a personal trauma or serious intervening event, there must be written evidence from an appropriate professional confirming the reason why the student was unable to attend an external assessment.

4.3 How to make an application

Students who believe that they are eligible for a DES should first seek advice from their school. The primary responsibility for submitting an application that meets all eligibility criteria rests with the student. The VCAA will determine the student’s eligibility for a DES from the supporting evidence supplied by the student.

What the student must do

The application and the collection of supporting evidence is the responsibility of the student. The student must ensure that:

  • they submit an application for each of the external assessments for which they are seeking a DES
  • all required sections of the application are completed by them
  • statements from the individuals providing the independent evidence are completed personally
  • statements from other sources are completed as applicable
  • the application is forwarded to the VCAA within seven days of the student’s last external assessment in the relevant assessment period
  • all the information provided is true and accurate
  • they (or others known to them) have not completed or altered any information in the application
  • their correct home address is registered with the school.

What the chief supervisor must do

The chief supervisor must complete Section B of the Individual Application for each written examination attended by the student.

What the VCE coordinator or appropriate school staff member must do

The VCE Coordinator and/or the relevant school staff member who communicated with the student immediately before and/or on the day of any external assessment for which they are seeking a DES must complete Section B of the Individual Application.

What the independent health professional must do

Independent health professionals must complete Section C1 of the Individual Application. The evidence given by the independent health professional is of paramount importance, and must be current and applicable to each external assessment for which an application is being made. If a student does not attend an external assessment, there must be a definitive statement from an independent health professional recommending non-attendance at that external assessment. Refer to ‘4.2 Evidence required for a DES application’ for timeliness of consultations. 

The independent health professional must provide contact details so that if the VCAA considers it necessary, it is able to seek additional information and/or evidence on the effect of the event or condition on the student’s ability to perform.

What other appropriate professionals must do (if applicable)

Other appropriate professionals, such as social workers, clergy, police officers, solicitors or funeral parlour operators must complete the appropriate section of the Individual Application.

They must also provide contact details so that if the VCAA considers it necessary, it is able to seek additional information and/or evidence on the effect of the event or condition on the student’s ability to perform.

What the principal or principal’s delegate must do

Specifically, the principal should:

  • determine whether the application has merit
  • determine whether it was the student’s intention to undertake the external assessment
  • provide any additional information relating to the authenticity of the application (for example, confirm attendance or illness, or relationship to a deceased friend or family member). Schools may include a copy of a student’s attendance record or an indication of the number of days absent
  • include their endorsement, or otherwise, based on available information for each external assessment for which a DES is being sought
  • ensure the VCE coordinator completes Section B of the Individual Application where necessary
  • complete and submit Section D of the Individual Application.

Submitting the application

Students should complete and submit their section of the application. Their home school principal will consider the application and make a recommendation to the VCAA. If circumstances are of an exceptionally private and sensitive nature, students may apply directly to the VCAA. Students will still be required to provide evidence that meets the eligibility requirements. The VCAA reserves the right to contact the school when statements involving the school need to be verified.

Closing date for applications

The closing date for submitting a DES application for each VCE examination is listed at the end of each student’s individual Student Examination/Assessment Timetable.

4.4 Attendance at VCE external assessments

Students are advised to attend every external assessment if at all possible. Students should not miss an external assessment merely because they do not feel able to do their best. The DES is designed for students who have completed the course leading to the external assessment, but have performed below expectations or cannot attend due to adverse circumstances. The VCAA does not expect a student to attend an external assessment against specific written medical advice.

If a student is ill, but able to attend the external assessment, they should inform their VCE coordinator and/or chief supervisor of their condition as soon as possible before or during the external assessment.

Non-attendance at external assessments

If a student cannot attend an external assessment, it is imperative that they notify their principal or VCE coordinator immediately. A student who does not attend an external assessment, and whose application is not approved, will receive ‘NA’ for the external assessment.

4.5 Assessing the application

All applications will be assessed by a panel, based on the evidence presented and any additional information obtained by the VCAA. A decision will be determined for each of the external assessments included in the application. The student and their school will both be notified of the outcome of the student’s application via email, which is also recorded on VASS.

For each approved application for a specific external assessment, the VCAA will:

  • calculate a range of possible DES scores, which will be calculated statistically from the student’s other assessments, including moderated School-based Assessments, GAT scores, other examination scores if applicable, and indicative grades provided by the school
  • record the DES as the final score if the highest possible DES score is greater than the achieved external assessment score
  • use this final score to determine the grade for the external assessment
  • use this final score to calculate the study score
  • report the calculated study score on the student’s Statement of Results
  • report this study score to VTAC for the calculation of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR).

For each application for a specific external assessment that is not approved, the VCAA will provide reasons why the application was not successful.

If an application is not approved, the VCAA will allow the student the opportunity to submit a second application if it:

  • provides additional evidence of the student’s condition or circumstances relevant to the external assessment that materially adds to the evidence submitted with the original application
  • is received at the VCAA no later than seven days from the date of the VCAA decision email.

4.6 Group applications

The principal of the home school may apply for a DES for a group of students for a particular external assessment or all external assessments for the student population. This group may be all students enrolled in a particular study at the school, or a class group, or any other group in which each member has been affected by a particular event.

Group applications are usually related to an event that has had a substantial effect on a student group (for example, the death of a fellow student or a teacher). If the event has affected a particular external assessment, the effect will be considered as restricted to that external assessment. The events occurring around one external assessment cannot necessarily be considered to have an effect on a student, or students, for another external assessment. Group applications would also be appropriate if there is an exceptional circumstance that affects a school community, such as a natural disaster or pandemic.

A group application does not preclude a student from submitting an individual application for a DES for each specified external assessment.

If group applications are made, the principal must identify the level of effect on each student, that is, how the incident affected the group and/or specific individuals within the group. It is strongly recommended that the school principal contacts VCAA Special Provision for advice prior to submitting a group DES application.

5 How is a DES calculated?

The calculation for the DES uses all other available scores for the student in the affected study and the indicative grade for any external assessments provided by the school and the GAT component scores. For each approved application for a specific external assessment, the VCAA will calculate a range of possible DES scores, which will be calculated statistically from the student’s other assessments, including:

  • moderated School-based Assessments
  • GAT component scores
  • other external assessment scores if applicable
  • indicative grades provided by the school.

The contribution made by the graded assessments, the indicative grade and the GAT component scores is determined by analysis of the comparison of this data with the final score for external assessment for all students who have not applied for a DES. For all external assessment this analysis indicates that the two graded assessment scores provide the greatest contribution to all the predictors.

If a student is eligible for a DES and the highest of the predictors is greater than the achieved external assessment score, the highest predictor is chosen as the final score for the student in the relevant external assessment.