Ofqual Releases New Guidance On How To Make Exams More Accessible

Ofqual Releases New Guidance On How To Make Exams More Accessible

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has published new guidance on how to make exams and other assessments as accessible as possible to all.  Ofqual, which is a non-ministerial government department, regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England.

This guidance was the subject of a 12-week consultation which received 163 responses. Out of 125 online respondents, 111 agreed or strongly agreed that the draft guidance will help awarding organisations ‘to design and develop assessments that are as accessible as possible for learners.’

According to the guidance, in their exams and assessments, awarding organisations should use accessible and appropriate language, use clear and consistent layout, and use source material, context, images and colour in ways that do not disadvantage students. Institutions should also consider how Reasonable Adjustments could be made to the exam or assessment to make sure disabled students are not disadvantaged.

The aim of reasonable adjustments is to remove barriers to make sure that students who suffer from disadvantages are able to succeed the same as other students. This may include providing extra time, or a scribe during exams. Schools and education authorities have had a duty to provide these reasonable adjustments for disabled students since 2002.

Brother and sister e-learning at home

Dr Jo Saxton, Ofqual Chief Regulator said: ‘It’s crucial that assessments in every subject have integrity and are accessible, to give all students a fair opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do, and to achieve results which reflect this. ’

Saxton explained that exams and assessments should ‘remain rigorous’ but must not unfairly disadvantage any student due to poor design or presentation. This guidance is not about making exams easier, but about ‘breaking down the barriers that stop young people achieving their true potential and making sure that exams actually test the things they are designed to test,’ she explained.

The Autism Education Trust said that they welcome and support the new guidance and deemed it a ‘positive step towards creating a ‘more inclusive education system.’

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said:

‘It is right that exams are as accessible as possible for everyone, and it is therefore good that Ofqual is supporting exam boards to make papers more accessible. Questions should not rely on learner’s cultural capital, nor should they be overly wordy, but should test the knowledge or skill that is being assessed. This should help to make exam results more valid in the future.’

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Ella is the Head of Content at Freshered and also works a freelance journalist at GRV Media, writing for HITC and Reality Titbit. Her interests lie in news and anything culture related including entertainment, musicals, books, and social media. Ella is also a big supporter of student media and writes for her university’s newspaper as well as hosting her own show on the radio station.