Using speech-to-text software for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination: a case study on the implementation of a new accommodation for candidates with specific learning disabilities

Using speech-to-text software for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination: a case study on the implementation of a new accommodation for candidates with specific learning disabilities

The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) is dedicated to providing reliable and equitable examination and assessment services. To uphold the integrity and fairness of public examinations, all candidates, including those with special educational needs (SEN), are assessed using the same standard. Nonetheless, the HKEAA provides adaptations and  accommodation to enable SEN candidates to demonstrate the full extent of their learning and be equitably assessed under suitable conditions without having an unfair advantage over other candidates. In response to requests from stakeholders to allow candidates with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) to dictate their answers in public examinations, mainly due to their functional limitations on handwriting, a working group comprising educational/clinical psychologists and experts in the field of special education was established in 2012/13 to study the feasibility and appropriateness of allowing them to use speech-to-text software for answering essay-type questions orally in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE)1.
Subsequent to literature review on benchmarking international practices, field testing of software and user experience tests, an experimental pilot study consisting of training and testing sessions and semi-structured interviews for both SLD and control groups was conducted in 2014/15. In view of the conclusions of the study and recommendation of the working group, the  HKEAA has allowed SLD candidates who have severe difficulties in writing and fulfilled the prescribed eligibility criteria to apply for using speech-to-text software for answering questions in the  Liberal Studies examination starting from the 2017 HKDSE. This paper discusses how different data collected and analysed in the aforementioned pilot study support the implementation of the new accommodation for SLD candidates in the HKDSE, and how statistical analysis on the examination performance of the candidates using the software in the 2017 and 2018 HKDSE will be
conducted to review the effectiveness of the accommodation.

 

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