DSA and INVALSI: pros and cons

DSA and INVALSI: pros and cons

Tests for students with DSA. Between exemptions, compensatory tools and dispensative measures, pros and cons of these tests.

DSA and INVALSI: pros and cons. What does "INVALSI" mean for a child or a boy with DSA? Among exemptions, compensatory tools and dispensative measures we try to understand the pros and cons of these tests.

Also this year the INVALSI tests are approaching: the first to face it, in the month of March, will be the students of V Superiore, for whom participation is a necessary requirement for admission to the final exam. In April it will be the turn of the students of III Media and in May it will be for those of II Superiore and students of II and V Elementare.

The purpose of the INVALSI tests

The INVALSI national tests (national institute for the evaluation of the education and training system) were born with the aim of improving the school. The assessment, external and objective, aims in fact to prevent disparities between first and second level schools, to offer all Italian students adequate literacy and numeracy levels. The idea is to focus on reasoning and problem solving skills and skills instead of notionism. This is because Italian students, compared to foreign colleagues, are less good at using what they have learned and more accustomed to a theoretical training based on knowledge and mnemonic learning.

The skills assessed with the INVALSI tests

The subjects involved in the INVALSI tests are three: Italian, Mathematics and English.

For Italian, the tests measure the ability to understand texts of different types and to reflect on the use of the language, knowing the lexicon and respecting the grammar.

The Mathematics tests contain questions, multiple choice or open, on numbers, space and figures, relationships and functions, data and forecasts and proportionality.

Finally, for English, the test consists of a reading and listening test.

The INVALSI tests in I and II grade secondary schools are computer based (CBT) and offer each student different questions, but equivalent in level of difficulty.

On Redooc the tests of past years of mathematics and Italian are available and free of charge for all school orders and many simulations – on paper and computer based – to practice and get prepared, for example:

  • Mathematics – Primary School
  • Italian – Primary School
  • Mathematics – First grade secondary school
  • Italian – 1st grade secondary school
  • Mathematics – Second grade secondary school
  • Italian – Secondary school

The protections for students with DSA during the INVALSI tests

As the indications regarding assessment, certification of competences and state exam in schools of the first cycle of education (Note MIUR 1865 of 10.10.2017), “pupils and pupils with specific learning disabilities (DSA) participate in the tests INVALSI referred to in Articles 4 and 7 of Legislative Decree no. 62/2017. For the performance of the aforementioned tests, the class council can arrange adequate compensatory tools consistent with the personalized teaching plan ”.

Compensatory tools are the dictionary, the text reader, the calculator and additional time (up to 15 minutes more) for the tests.

Instead, exemption from the INVALSI English Test is provided as a dispensation measure for students dispensed from the written foreign language test or exempted from teaching the foreign language.

These measures are only applicable to students with certified DSA. All the other BES (Special Educational Needs) students carry out the ordinary test in the standard way.

Pros and cons of INVALSI tests

The Invaliate Trials, therefore, are born with the best intentions and the idea is to guarantee everyone the opportunity to leave school with the same basic skills as the others. Non-notional but experiential questions go in the right direction of a school that not only evaluates elementary learning (which penalizes students with DSA), but also higher learning such as the critical sense and the ability to rework.

The problems, however, concern the structure of the INVALSI tests and the methods of administration. A long test, with a large number of questions to answer in a limited time, is a source of anxiety for everyone and especially for boys and girls with Specific Learning Disorders. Panic and despair therefore risk taking over and compromising the result.

Furthermore, each student with DSA should be accompanied by a reader, or a person who will explain the delivery to him, question by question. This, however, in practice does not happen and one of the major causes of error is precisely the lack of understanding of the delivery.

At INVALSI the task of putting pros and cons on the scales, to guarantee Italian schools an increasingly fair system of skills assessment, not penalizing for students with DSA and above all capable of truly taking into account all learning styles.

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