I’m sure we have all heard the 21st Century learning initiative – inclusion and differentiated instruction are key. As a teacher, I agree with this in theory. However, the powers that be want inclusion to be followed, but are hell-bent on continuing with the old -world guidelines of standardized testing. How can a child, who struggles with the standard curriculum outcomes in education, we able to succeed in passing a standardized evaluation, if that evaluation is built to assess the average student, not the exceptional student. It is completely backward thinking.
Most IRT teachers today use alternate testing for students with learning difficulties, trying to format the test for the optimized success rate for an individual student.
1 – Test should be altered to aid the student to be as successful as their difficulty will allow them. Don’t forget, most children are very intelligent, but are not in the typical sense of most.
rather than have fill-in-the-blanks, allow children with Dyslexia to answer questions through matching. The answers are there for them to see, they just need to match up the proper term with the definition. Fill-in-the-blanks requires a student to recall answers from memory and inevitably write the answer down wrong. This is a double problem for these students: unreliable memory recall and writing difficulty. This equals to high anxiety.
Provide answers somewhere on the test. You can provide all students with a word bank, so as not to single out anyone. However, try to avoid multiple choice, as it again requires a lot of reading and memory recall.
Allow extra time to students with Dyslexia. Don’t forget that these students require 3 – 4 times longer to finish things than most children, so it is irresponsible to assume they can finish a test in the same time as everyone else. ( An alternative to more time, you can shorten the test. A test can be shortened and still allow teachers to evaluate the student’s knowledge of the content quite sufficiently.