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Should dislexic people be allowed extra time in exams

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/6/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 948 times Debate No: 45343
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If you accept the challenge just write accept and our debate will begin there. I think that dyslexic people should not be allowed extra time in their exams as it does not reflect real life ability, they should just have a mark beside their score or have the extra time, but again a mark by their score signifying their condition.


I accept the challenge.
I think that those with dyslexia should be given extra time to complete exams.

Let's begin, shall we?
Debate Round No. 1


Yes, let's begin. I think that it is unfair that dyslexic people are given extra time for exams and yet if I were to look at take GCSE results for example I may look at a dyslexic persons results compared to a normal persons results and see that they are the same, so I take the dyslexic person on for the job in preference due to other things on their CV. This is not a fair portrayal as someone who is dyslexic will take possibly twice as long to do a job and will be less capable to do a job than a non-dyslexic person. In real life a dyslexic person would not be given an extra week to get that presentation done due to their condition would they?


Note: I will not post any rebuttals in my opening arguments so don't expect them. I will address my opponents arguments in the third and fourth round before concluding in the fifth.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's start off by the dictionary definition of dyslexia:
“Dyslexia [n]: a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

We see right off the bat the first thing that separates those with dyslexia from those that do not: They have difficulty deciphering words, letters, symbols and other 'common' methods of written communication. Simply put, they have difficulty reading and are much slower readers than you and I for example. That added weight on their shoulders makes the average English test much harder than they have to be, despite them not being any less intelligent than you are. If all tests would be read out loud to them they would score the exact same mark as you will in the exact same time.

Unfortunately they have to fight this hindrance each and every time that they sit down and take a test, the test is not read to them and they have to rely on their own ability to read the instructions. Something they just cannot do in the same time frame as the regular test taker. Imagine that you're taking a test in your second or third language. You don't read the foreign text on the test as fast as you would have done if it was plain English, or if you where a native speaker. Imagine that even English had this slowing effect, that you'd have to take a good amount of time just do decipher the instructions on the test, valuable time that ISN'T being used to solve the problem itself. Suddenly you find that you're three courters trough the test and the bell strikes, you return an incomplete test because you wasted so much time understanding it. The extra time levels the playing field, just a little. It gives those that shouldn't be penalized a fair chance to catch up and finish, it returns a more accurate result.

perhaps increasing the mark would be a better way to give them the edge, to help combat the issue. But this is again an improper method that is unfair, extra credit just on the account of dyslexia does nothing but skew the truth. To fully understand why this is not a good thing, let's look at a two classes full of students, both taking a test.

In one class, some of the test takers do not manage to finish the test due to limited time. To compensate, the teacher gives them some extra marks. This leaves open the possibility that students might purposely leave certain questions they cannot answer unmarked instead of guessing, knowing that they'll get the extra mark anyhow. This in return means that test might not give a correct estimation of the knowledge the student has.
The other class has unlimited time, and once they have finished the test they stand up and leave. Now, everyone has an equal shot of finishing the test. Those that do not know the answers cannot return empty answers and hope for an extra mark, they will simply get a wrong answer. This means that if someone didn't finish the test, it isn't because he/she took a long time, it means he didn't know the answer. The tests are much more accurate and give a correct approximation to the general skill level of each student.

I propose two equally faulty solutions: One is that every student that requests so can get access to a reader, someone who can read out loud the questions. But this suffers from the fact that not only does this cause a general disturbance in the classroom, it also requires someone to fill in the gap; Assuming a 100 student test chamber and the normal rate of 10-17% dyslexic we already have 17 tutors that require pay and 17 persons that are now doing whatever those tutors where doing before the test began.

The other method is impractical simply because we cannot manipulate physical laws. If everyone did in fact have unlimited time we could give every student the time that he or she needed to finish the test no matter how fast they would manage to get trough it. But since we cannot provide every student with an infinite amount of time we cannot do this either. Taking the limited extra time and giving it to the selective few that need it the most is the only logical thing to do if we are to accurately measure how each student stands in the field being tested.

Ladies and gentlemen; The extra time is there for a reason. Those that suffer from an illness that does not affect their intelligence in any way, but merely the speed that they show that intelligence should not be forced to fight their own handicap. They should not be discriminated against and should not be given less chance to show what they are capable of. They should be given time to show that they too, can be at the top of their field, no matter what walls they must first climb, because that would be the way to make it fair.

Debate Round No. 2


I do not mean to discriminate I just feel that there is a certain injustice to those who have not got this disability. Giving people unlimited time in an exam does not reflect the real world in any way does it. It is not the persons fault that they have such an ability, but in real,life if a dyslexic person wee to go for a job in a firm, because of their disability are you saying that the employer should give them extra time because it is not fair? Should somebody read out every detail to them, because it is not fair? We can baby disabilities in school and fight for extra time, but the fact in the real world is that nobody in the business world is going to provide somebody with extra time just for the sake of their disability. Having teachers to help those with disabilities I am all for, but I feel that it is unjust to those people without disabilities, those who have an A that they will have worked hard for with a time limit and somebody with a mild disability is getting the A too because of having double time. It is not a fair portrayal to employers either.
Also I feel that if we are to give dyslexic people extra time we are to note by their result that they have got extra time, just so that people have and idea or know. I know many people that are allowed extra time when they can work just as fast as your average Joe Bloggs because of a test saying that they are mildly dyslexic, they do not need extra time but of corse they claim it. Is that fair or just on the rest of us? Tests give us a portrayal of how we are at subjects we all have our weaknesses, but should we be allowed extra time for doing so? I know many dyslexic people who have A* at GCSEs in English. Do you think they are at this level or stage in REAL life? No of corse they aren't but because of extra time in these tester they come across as wiz kids at English. And what about tests like maths which I know for a fact dyslexic people do not have a problem with, what about the fact that they get unnecessary extra time then? Dyslexia has also been clinically proven to be a disability that can be overcome. Ones brain can be trained as it were 'out of dyslexia', so for those who feel they have it tough they can get rid of it and for those who simply can't be bothered, why should they get extra time if they cannot be bothered?


Ah, but tests are not there to reflect real life applications, they are strictly there to get an overview of how much said student knows and how he applies his knowledge to a set of predefined problems in a given field.

You're correct in the assumption that an employer will react differently to incoming employees that has a high test grade, but you must remember that along with the test scores the hiring firm will also get a full résumé describing the strengths, weaknesses and disabilities of the now grow up student. A firm will be made aware that the student has Dyslexia and if the firm is worth their value they will estimate how severe the handicap is and can make a valid decision based upon that. It is my honest opinion that the 25 minutes extra given to dyslexic students will remain within the education path of that student and won't impact his career to the extent that it gives them an unfair advantage. The employer gives them the same time limit as he would to everyone else, the time limit that his job requires and the employ promised as he signed his contract that he would be able to operate under. Remember that not all jobs require extensive paper reading. If the dyslexic person is reading a digital report he can either increase the font size until his handicap can cope with it or he might use the on screen narrator that is available on his computer to dictate it for him.

Students work hard to fit everything a test requires into the time limit. Some unfortunately have it harder than others. Those with dyslexia are born with a limit that stops them from acquiring the same speed as others. You're correct, some have it better than others, a mild dyslexia isn't something to award extra time over, but what about those that do have a severe form of the disability? How are you going to tell who is riding the train and who is generally struggling to read a sentence as simple as “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”? We can't, we will never be able to tell who are trying and still failing and who are not trying and thus won't succeed by their own choice. Penalizing the good to unveil the evil just doesn't work.

I know that dyslexia is not a permanent handicap, but that is in no way connected to the statement “Dyslexia is simple to overcome.” Some just cannot for their little life fight the dancing letters that swirl around their paper and cannot make them stop in the correct places no matter how hard they try. We can and will help them, we will give them the opportunities that they deserve in life, but we cannot sacrifice them or put too much pressure on their shoulders just so that we can force those that DO have the capability to improve enough to skip their extra minutes to actually improve.

To conclude this round:
These extra 20-30 minutes won't do anyone harm, neither will they do anyone good. As unfair as it may seem to reward someone for being born a certain way it is often the only method we have that works with minimal damage. I'd like my opponent to properly define a method that allows us to give everyone the same amount of time on a test, yet give everyone the same chance of success and that will not skew the final result at all. But until that method of teaching is found I still think that out of several ill possibilities that are possible, A few extra minutes won't hurt more than they help.

Debate Round No. 3


Let me start by defining what exams are for: exams are a formal test of a person's knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill. This means that tests are indeed meant to give an accurate representation of a persons ability of a subject, so is should not be surprising for a dyslexic person to not be so able in a mostly writing exam. A person looking at grades should take this into account and understand that rather than seeing a dyslexic person has got an A in an English exam, when in actual fact they are not actually of this standard of English. After speaking to many dyslexic people the general consensus from them was that the extra time was a joke, of corse they appreciated the extra time given as it did enhance their grade, but even they felt it was an inaccurate representation of their skill.
I understand that a full CV will be given to the employer, but perhaps universities lets say I know that most universities start by looking at grades only and after they have selected the grades of the standard they expect they then start to look at the other things that people have done. Again font size makes very little difference to a person with such a disorder, but if it helps then possibly we should have this done to all papers to make it more fair. As for the reading out, it would one more be untrue to the persons life. They will not in their work be provided with somebody who can read everything out for them, so how is that helping them apart from giving them a false idea of what life will be like? That because of this disability they can always be given extra time for their work and have somebody read out things to them.
An excellent point, that is also very true is that we will never be able to distinguish those who really need the extra time and those who do not. Which is a shame isn't it? Schools should provide schemes to help people with this disability overcome it, as no it is not fair that they have all the brains and often people with dyslexia have average to over average intelligence yet cannot get it out. But I again refer to my point that somebody who has such a problem will not wish to expand in later life, as it is something they struggle with. So why is it that they want to come across as somebody who is an A or A* student at English, when they are not. That is okay and perhaps we should have a symbol or a sign placed beside the grade so that the disability can be understood and recognised then it would not matter that they possibly didn't do so well in the subject.
Ah, I never said that this handicap was SIMPLE to overcome, but nor is it impossible. With the correct resources and support it can be overcome, and surely if this can be overcome then we should all get behind it? I do not mean that in not having extra time we are crushing their capability, because everybody has a talent and I am sure that that will show in other grades. For those with a severe disability then maybe we do provide them with some sort of listening form of a paper instead, because everybody deserves equality is something that should definitely be enforced in schools, so it is schools jobs to help these people not to struggle.
Finally you state that these extra minutes will do no harm nor good. If it does neither than why is it that we keep them?
I suggest that we have many ways of dealing with this some of them could be:
1- We let them have extra time, giving people a false sense of their strengths, but note beside the grade their handicap
2- We lengthen exam time to fit everybody.
3- Dyslexic people are given the option to have special exams fitted for their disability, but it is shown that they have this in the grade.
4. WE give them the same amount of time as everybody, but beside the score recognise their handicap
5. Dyslexia is treated and gone by exam time so that nobody suffers from it


I'll do step by step rebuttals this round.

Let me start by defining what exams are for: exams are a formal test of a person's knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill. This means that tests are indeed meant to give an accurate representation of a persons ability of a subject, so is should not be surprising for a dyslexic person to not be so able in a mostly writing exam.
Except that it does not represent his/her knowledge. We aren't f.x testing how well a person can write in a history test. If we take it a bit to the extremes; If I would be missing both my hands and would show up at a test would you as a teacher not give me assistance? I can read and write, but it takes me much much slower than other pupils because I'm holding my pencil by my teeth. I can write perfectly fine, I'm just much slower. Would you say that it is unfair to assist me? Other students don't get any assistance, why should I? I can learn to write as quickly as everyone else but it's still much much harder.

After speaking to many dyslexic people the general consensus from them was that the extra time was a joke, of course they appreciated the extra time given as it did enhance their grade, but even they felt it was an inaccurate representation of their skill.
Tell me, in what way did it enhance their grade? Did the extra time somehow allow them to know more? Did it allow them to increase the capability of their memories so that they'd get better grades? Or did it allow them to finish the test and truly get the grade that they deserve? Or would they rather admit to being disabled and that they should get lower marks just because they had to rewrite the answer four times due to them always messing up the word order?

I know that most universities start by looking at grades only.
Incorrect, this is school dependent and does not hold in your favour each and every time. When applying for HR (Reykjavik university1), one of the many universities here in Iceland you are not only required to hand over your grades but are also, and I translate and quote:

Applicants are required to have graduated secondary education, Primal studies at HR, or other equivalent level of education. When reviewing applications a note is made of grades from secondary, any further education, career experience, participation in social activities and interests/hobbies2

HR has more than once and more than twice accepted a student that had lower final grades than another applicant that did not get accepted because he was better fit for the university and the studies that are taught there. Grades are not always a deciding factor. Someone applying for University with dyslexia should be able to correctly estimate what he is capable of and what not, he's a slow reader/writer, he isn't retarded. The disability does not affect his intelligence in any way. If he cannot fully understand how far his limits go he'll fail university and try again later.

Increase font size with all papers.
This isn't a viable option. Let's say that a dyslexic person can read at his best speed with font size 32 ( a bit extreme I admit). Are you going to print out a separate version for each student? The size of my entire round up to this point is a single page, in size 32 it would be 8-fold the amount of pages. A standard 10 page test would well be fit for a novella in size 32 font.

They will not in their work be provided with somebody who can read everything out for them.
Again, dyslexic people aren't retarded. Unless you're talking about kids at the age of 7-9 they will be well aware that they don't have a narrator with them at all times. Remember, we're only talking about tests here, they don't come home and get someone to read the paper, their facebook wall, the rest of the teaching material unless they have an audio book and if they already have a job alongside school they should be getting a pretty good look at how life is.

perhaps we should have a symbol or a sign placed beside the grade
We cannot cherry pick dyslexia out of all other illnesses that might affect the final grade. Do you also want a special symbol for ADHD? How about those mentally challenged? How about depression? That can affect your grade pretty harshly. We'd end up with a system that would take more room than the grade itself.

With the correct resources and support it can be overcome, and surely if this can be overcome then we should all get behind it?
Actually, research indicate that dyslexia in some cases grow off people as they grow older. The brain decides that it ignores one of the eye inputs and instead focus all of it's efforts deciphering the info the other eye is picking up on.3 however, we cannot simply wait and see If a student will suddenly snap out of it, because for some people reading and writing become too hard. They sit down and write what to them is a perfectly logical sentence, but it isn't until someone reads it out that they realize that they put all the verbs behind the nouns. They knew what they where writing, but they didn't notice that it went out of the pen incorrectly. They may not be stuck with this forever, but while they are trying to recover, why should they not get that extra time? For some not getting the extra time is a living nightmare that they never wake up from4

severe disability should be provided with audio-test
Are you going to be the one that dictates every test? How are you going to distribute this audio-test? You can't let them bring audio devices of their own, they'd just place the answers on the disc and get a perfect score. The school might not have enough audio devices of its own to share amongst everyone, how would this work?

these extra minutes will do no harm nor good. why is it that we keep them?
I apologize, I wasn't clear enough when I phrased that conclusion. What I meant to say was that in a larger context outside of the test these extra 25 minutes won't impact their lives. It helps them fight stress and have a fair shot at the test as they are taking it, but once the leave the classroom they won't matter anymore.

1- We let them have extra time, giving people a false sense of their strengths
I've stated this several times: they aren't stupid. Dyslexia does not impact ones mental capabilities beyond their ability to process symbols. They know that they have it harder, they are aware that they have this minor disability. You place your arguments in a way that makes it seem like dyslexia affects the person so harshly that they suddenly forget their handicap and believe that the extra minutes are granted to them everywhere and that they are much smarter for having them.

2- We lengthen exam time
This also causes problems. Often when taking finals that come in succession those that get extra time end up sneaking into the time allotted for the next test. When we're talking about 4-6 extra heads it usually won't matter but when the entire class of 50-60 students that don't need the time come along you'll get a lot of problems.

3- special exams fitted for their disability
And how do you propose that this extra test would differ from the regular test? Remember, they are just as smart as you. Whatever questions you can answer they will answer as well. The problem isn't that they don't understand the question, the problem is that they take longer to read it and write the same answer.

4. same amount of time + recognise their handicap
Read the fourth source for the answer to this one; a low score affects them emotionally just as much as it affects you. You wouldn't like to get a 47% when you know you should have gotten a better grade?

5. Dyslexia is treated
How are you going to cure everyone by the time the test comes around? There isn't a fool-proof cure to dyslexia that works for everyone so this point is mute.

I await the next and final set of arguments by my opponent.


Debate Round No. 4


Honeyhoney forfeited this round.


My opponent forfeited her round so I'll extend my arguments and conclude the debate.

I'd like to thank my opponent for an interesting and entertaining debate and I wish her all the best in her future debates.
Debate Round No. 5
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