National Literacy Units – why scribes cannot be used and what alternatives have we?

The SQA states:

In relation to the National Literacy Units at all levels:

(i) exemption from demonstrating any of the four assessed skills of reading,  writing, listening or talking will not be a reasonable adjustment and (ii)  using human readers and scribes will not be reasonable adjustments where reading  and writing abilities are being explicitly assessed.

The rationale behind this is that the provision of a human reader and/or a human scribe would  undermine the fundamental assessment objectives for reading and writing and  would not secure that the National Units in Literacy provided a reliable  indication of the knowledge and skills of the candidate upon whom they are  conferred. It would not be possible to maintain public confidence in the  National Units in Literacy if learners are given  credit for ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ when that  process has been carried out by someone else.

In order to minimise the disadvantage faced by some disabled  learners in attaining the National Units in Literacy, the use of word  processors and other assistive technologies such as screen readers, spell  checkers or speech-recognition software would be acceptable as reasonable  adjustments.

I have been doing some testing with the in-built speech recognition on a Windows 7 Lenovo ThinkPad E530.  I used an Andrea USB Mono headset and from a test yesterday think the correct headset makes a huge difference.  Have a look at the short video clip here to see it working.  (slightly wobbly filming as was self-videoing)

It’s not perfect as I excitedly stated in the video clip but it’s good and could be something that could benefit many of our students.  Could this be a possibility for them to use instead of dictating to a scribe for the Literacy Unit assessment?

You can try it for yourself on a Windows 7 laptop or PC.  Click on the Start icon then type in ‘Speech Recognition’ in the Search box.  Work your way through the set up – I skipped the tutorial and so did no ‘training’ of my voice and still got very good results.

Let me know what you think!

3 thoughts on “National Literacy Units – why scribes cannot be used and what alternatives have we?

  1. Hi Shirley,
    Thanks for the help with Speech to Text software. I have been trying to find something that will work on our school system since April! I will try out your suggestions.
    I did read on your blog “could this be a possibility for them to use instead of dictating to a scribe for the Literacy Unit assessment”. Have I misread this? Pupils won’t be allowed a scribe for the Literacy writing unit. There is no alternative other than Speech to Text software or typing or writing themselves. That’s why it is so frustrating when the software lets you down.
    Great to see you have the new dyslexia font on all your school computers. Did the region pay for this to be installed? Has it made a difference to dyslexic pupils?

  2. Thanks Shirley.

    I wonder if you’re needed a pilot primary school for this software; if you are, I’d be happy to offer my school up for the job.

    It’s interesting to see the reason behind the scribes and I see the point. Other solutions would be more useful in encouraging the developing of life skills.

    Good and useful post.

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