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Frequently asked questions for schools

The student I’m applying for has poor reading and comprehension skills. She would like to apply for a reader but does not want to use a writer. Do I have to supply the timed essays?
No. You do not need to supply evidence that does not relate to the provision requested.
I have a student who has cerebral palsy and her application includes detailed medical evidence. Why do I need to supply teacher comments as well?
The teacher comments are needed to give an indication of how a student’s disability affects them in class and during examinations. It is this information that helps the Board determine what provisions are most appropriate for the HSC examinations.
One of the Year 12 students at my school injured her back in a car accident at the beginning of the year. I’m not sure if she will still need disability provisions by the time of the HSC exams but I don’t want her to miss out.
Hold the application until July and then send updated medical and teacher comments. As the student’s condition may improve with time it’s important that provisions are based on the student’s needs during the examination period and not her condition earlier in the year.
Who decides which disability provisions can be implemented for students in school-based assessments?
Principals have the authority to decide on and to implement disability provisions for school-based assessment tasks including examinations. For more information, see sections 10.1 and 10.3 of the ACE Manual (2005)
A student has supplied me with a copy of a recent medical report. Do I still need to ask the doctor to fill out the medical provisions page in the application form?
No, medical reports don’t have to be on the Board’s form. However, they do need to provide similar information to what is requested on the Board’s form. This helps the Board to determine what provisions are most appropriate and allows consistent application of the guidelines.
I don’t have any assessment tasks to submit with my student’s application. Can I submit the application with one essay or should I ask the student to complete two of the sample essay topics?
You must submit two extended responses/essays and at least one of these must be from an assessment task. Multiple-choice or short answer tasks are not suitable. Keep the application until a suitable assessment task is available.
Our school has been providing a student with coloured overlay for his school tests based on an undocumented Irlen Syndrome diagnosis. Do we need to include a medical report with his application?
If coloured overlay is the only provision requested and the school has been providing this, a medical report is not required and the principal can recommend this provision. However, if the student requests other provisions, such as extra time, then reading tests and timed essays need to be submitted.
A student at my school is completing her HSC under ‘Pathways’. Do I have to submit a new application for a Pathways student each year?
Yes. New applications must be submitted for each year the student is sitting exams. If the student has a lifelong medical condition (eg cerebral palsy), updated medical evidence may not be required. However, other documentation such as essays and teacher comments must be updated.
I have already applied for disability provisions for one of my students and received a decision letter but now I realise I should have requested an additional provision? Do I have to submit another application?
Additional provisions can be requested through the 'request review' function on Schools Online. Once a decision on the new provisions is made, a reviewed decision letter will be published.
The parents of a Year 11 student at my school are insisting their daughter needs to use a computer to complete her school examinations but I’m not sure she will be granted this provision for the HSC. Can the Board advise whether the student should be allowed to use a computer for her school examinations?
Schools are required to determine what disability provisions are approved for all school-based examinations. The Board only determines disability provisions for the Higher School Certificate examinations. Students and parents should be advised that there is no guarantee the Board will grant the same provisions as those given at school.
The parents of a student at my school can’t understand why their son, who has badly injured his hand, isn’t allowed to use a computer for his HSC.
The HSC is a hand-written examination. Some students, even those with hand injuries, can type at a much faster rate than most students can write. Allowing these students to use a computer would give an unfair advantage. In the majority of cases students with a writing difficulty are offered the use of a writer. Computers are only granted in extreme cases where there is no alternative. If the injury occurs immediately before or during the examinations the student may also need to submit an illness/misadventure appeal while they develop dictation skills.
I’m the Year 12 coordinator this year and I’ve just discovered I’m responsible for co-running the disability provisions program but I have no idea how to complete the Neale reading assessment. What should I do?
Talk to your school counsellor, STLA or support teacher – they should have experience in administering the reading and spelling tests.
I have a student who has a number of very serious medical conditions and I’m not sure whether the disability provisions listed will allow her to fully demonstrate her ability. What is the best way to assist her?
If you are unsure about the provisions a student may be entitled to or have any concerns about an application, contact the Board’s Student Support Services Branch for further advice, (02) 9367 8325 or 9367 8117.
I have just become aware of a student who may be entitled to disability provisions but the application deadline has passed. Am I too late to apply?
Schools should submit applications for known cases by the due date as this allows time for the application to be processed and gives students a reasonable length of time to practise with their provisions before the HSC examinations. For existing conditions late applications will be considered where there are extenuating circumstances and late injury/illness applications can be submitted up to and throughout the examination period.
I have a student who was granted the use of a writer or extra time to rest because he experiences pain when writing but I think he should be granted extra time to write because the pain slows him down.
A writer or extra time to rest is considered the fairest and most suitable way of addressing this difficulty. Granting the student extra time to write in this situation may give an unfair advantage and does not remove the problem of pain experienced when writing.
Do I have to supply an occupational therapist’s report with all applications requesting the use of a computer?
You need to supply teacher comments, timed essays and a report from a relevant health professional. The health professional may be, but is not limited to, an occupational therapist. The report must detail the student’s condition and the likely effect on examination performance. As the HSC examinations are timed, hand-written examinations, a computer might not be the most suitable provision.
A parent at my school says their child does not need disability provisions but I think the student might be approved the use of a reader and writer. Do I have to have parental approval to submit an application?
Schools should discuss the application with parents and resolve the matter before submitting an application to the Board.
I have a student whose doctor says they should use a computer for all of their examinations but the Board hasn’t approved one. Why not?
The Board requests medical advice to confirm the diagnosis of a particular condition and to gain an understanding of how that condition is likely to affect the student during an examination. This advice may also include details of specific activities the student is unable to do, such as writing. It is then the Board’s role to use that information to determine how best to accommodate the student’s disability needs within the guidelines of the HSC. One important consideration is to avoid over-compensating the student to the disadvantage of other students.
There isn’t enough room at our school to provide separate supervision for all of the students with disability provisions.
Students with disability provisions are usually granted small group supervision, which is easier to accommodate than individual supervision. Some schools make other learning spaces, such as the library, available for disability provisions during the HSC examinations.
I have just received the decision letter for a student at our school and the provisions I applied for were declined, while other provisions I didn’t apply for were granted? What happened?
If the evidence supplied does not meet the Board’s established guidelines the requested provision will be declined. This ensures provisions are granted fairly and consistently across the state. Equally, if the evidence indicates a provision that was not requested is more suitable, this will be approved.
I have a student who suffers from frequent, debilitating migraines, resulting in him missing a lot of school and often impairing his examination performance. What disability provisions can he apply for?
Where a student has a condition that may or may not occur during an examination, such as migraines or asthma, the occurrence of an episode during an examination is covered by illness/misadventure appeals, not disability provisions. Also, disability provisions cannot compensate students for difficulties in undertaking a course or lost preparation time. If however there are identifiable factors that are known to contribute to a particular condition, for eg bright lighting frequently resulting in a migraine, an application for separate supervision in a suitable room could be made. Contact the Student Support Services Branch for further advice.
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