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Another Leaving Cert looms without any additional time for students with dyslexia – Lombard

31st May 2024 - Senator Tim Lombard

Students with dyslexia due to begin their Leaving and Junior Cert examinations next Wednesday are not on a level playing field with their peers, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Tim Lombard pointed out that 136,300 students are due to sit Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate State Exams next week. On average 10% of the population are dyslexic, so over 13,000 of students sitting state exams this year will be dyslexic.

Senator Lombard said: “It’s extremely frustrating for students, parents, teachers and those advocating on their behalf. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) has run a significant campaign highlighting why the lack of additional time as an accommodation here is unfair and out of line with the UK and other European countries. It’s also out of step with third level institutions here who do offer additional time to dyslexic students.

“The DAI petition calling for extra time in state exams was discussed at the Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsmen recently with representatives from the State Examinations Committee (SEC) and the Department of Education. While it emerged that the SEC will consider a review of additional time as part of an overall review of the Reasonable Accommodations in State Examinations (RACE) scheme and this is welcome, the timelines for this review is expected to be a minimum of two to three years. This is extremely disappointing and no use to students sitting this year’s state exams.

“The lack of urgency around this shows a lack of understanding of the time related issues faced by dyslexic students. It’s simply not good enough that students in 6th class now still may not have this simple accommodation available to them when they sit their Junior Cycle examinations in 2027.

“Students with dyslexia take more time to read, process and understand the questions being asked of them. Current accommodations like spelling and grammar waivers are needed by some students, but these waivers do not support students who need more time to read and process exam questions. They also only apply to language subjects and offer no support to students in maths, which has changed to a much wordier format of project maths in recent years.

“In addition, some students with dyslexia may have an accommodation to use a reading pen. This is a fantastic piece of technology and a wonderful aid to students. However, using a reading pen takes longer than reading text and students are not given additional time in these instances either.

“The Minister for Education must ensure that the review of the RACE scheme; including the consideration of additional time, is prioritised and takes place before the State Examinations in 2025. This has undoubtedly caused additional stress to the class of 2024 and this should not have been the case.”

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