Spe­cial pro­vi­sions to level the play­ing field

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - STEFANIE BALOGH

South Aus­tralian schools will be­come the first in the na­tion to gain greater au­ton­omy in how they man­age the use of spe­cial pro­vi­sions to help level the ed­u­ca­tion play­ing field for fi­nal-year stu­dents with a dis­abil­ity.

Stu­dents sit­ting the Year 12 South Aus­tralian Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion, the state-based equiv­a­lent of NSW’s Higher School Cer­tifi­cate or the Vic­to­rian Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion, will no longer be re­quired to take ex­tra tests to as­sess whether they are el­i­gi­ble for spe­cial pro­vi­sions.

In­stead, pro­vi­sions that are al­ready de­ter­mined and ap­proved by schools on a case-by-case ba­sis for school-based as­sess­ments will be used for their ex­ter­nal ex­ams. Spe­cial pro­vi­sions are used in all states and ter­ri­to­ries and in­clude mi­nor ad­just­ments such as en­abling vi­sion-im­paired stu­dents to use an en­larged exam paper, or giv­ing other stu­dents ex­tra read­ing or writ­ing time, and rest breaks for stu­dents with is­sues such as pain, anx­i­ety dis­or­der or con­cen­tra­tion dif­fi­cul­ties.

“We want to give every stu­dent the op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed in their school ca­reer,’’ SA Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Su­san Close said.

“No stu­dent should be dis­ad­van­taged in any way from tak­ing part in their SACE sub­jects and as­sess­ments be­cause of dis­abil­ity or im­pair­ment.’’

South Aus­tralian schools will have greater au­ton­omy to man­age the pro­vi­sion re­quire­ments for SACE stu­dents with a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity, vi­sion im­pair­ment, hear­ing im­pair­ment, med­i­cal con­di­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der or spe­cific learn­ing dis­or­der.

“These changes will not only em­power schools to de­ter­mine and im­ple­ment spe­cial pro­vi­sions re­quire­ments for el­i­gi­ble stu­dents, but also help to al­le­vi­ate un­nec­es­sary stress for stu­dents and their fam­i­lies,’’ Ms Close said.

South Aus­tralia is the first ju­ris­dic­tion to make the change.

Cal­lum McBrearty, 18, a Year 12 stu­dent at Ade­laide’s Un­ley High School who will sit his SACE this year, said the high­lights of his time at Un­ley had been the friend­ships and op­por­tu­ni­ties: “The friend­ships made, I will never forget, be­tween both stu­dents and teach­ers, as well as the sup­port staff from the Link room who kept me go­ing.’’

Un­ley’s act­ing deputy princi- pal Richard Whaites said “it is vi­tal for Cal­lum to have spe­cial pro­vi­sions to com­plete his SACE (and) fully par­tic­i­pate in a par­tic­u­lar as­sess­ment type. In this case it is writ­ten ex­am­i­na­tions where Cal­lum can be pro­vided the use of a scribe, some ex­tra time and rest breaks.”

Jan Ray­mond, act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SACE board, said: “Spe­cial pro­vi­sions are vi­tal be­cause they help to en­sure all SACE stu­dents can un­der­take as­sess­ments in fair and com­pa­ra­ble con­di­tions. These changes al­low for im­proved con­ti­nu­ity and con­sis­tency be­tween class­room and as­sess­ment.”


Cal­lum McBrearty with school co-or­di­na­tor Kate Williams

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