Chromebooks and SQA Assessment Arrangements: The use of Chromebooks by Candidates who Require Assessment Arrangements in Scottish Qualification Authority External Examinations

Paul Nisbet, Shirley Lawson, Craig Mill, Robert Stewart

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Technology in the form of a computer or word processor has been used by candidates with Additional Support Needs or disabilities as an Assessment Arrangement in SQA exams for many years, and Digital Question Papers (DQPs) have been available from SQA since 2008.
The majority of candidates currently use Windows laptops or computers, and the technology has proved reliable and practical for centres and candidates. In 2018, 59% of Scottish state schools requested DQPs (source: data from SQA).
Chromebooks have been and are being purchased by some local authorities and schools in Scotland and consequently SQA commissioned CALL to research the implications of using Chromebooks for Assessment Arrangements in SQA examinations.
CALL has carried out research and testing and liaised with colleagues in Google, schools and local authorities and software developers, and this report summarises the status at this point in time.
The focus of this report is on candidates who require Assessment Arrangements, although the discussion is also relevant for candidates who do not require Assessment Arrangements and who wish to use a Chromebook to type their answers in examinations.
Technology used in examinations must meet SQA requirements in terms of security; centres’ requirements in terms of accessing DQPs and typing up or otherwise producing answers; and candidates’ requirements in terms of accessibility and usability. Regarding security, candidates must not be able to access information on the internet or other digital storage, and support tools such as Spellcheck cannot be used unless the candidate has permission to use them.
Centres and candidates may use DQPs and/or technology in examinations to meet a range of different needs, and here we summarise our findings with respect to Chromebooks across three different Assessment Arrangement scenarios:
• Use of ICT to write answers (no DQP);
• Use of ICT with a ‘Question-Only’ DQP;
• Use of ICT with a ‘Question and Answer’ DQP.
Technology is changing rapidly – over the course of this research there have been developments both in terms of the accessibility tools built into the Chrome OS and with apps and extensions available from third-party providers. This continually changing technological context has delayed the publication of this document and does in our view contribute to uncertainty for staff and candidates regarding the use of Chromebooks in examinations because the devices and how they function appear to change, sometimes without warning. This situation is of course not confined to Chromebooks – it also applies to software and devices based on Windows and iOS.
Consequently the tools and systems described in this report will change. We hope that this report provides a summary of the current status for SQA, schools and teachers, local authorities, and software providers, and help to inform development of both technology and pedagogical practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh
Commissioning bodyScottish Qualifications Authority
Number of pages104
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • chromebooks
  • disability
  • access arrangements
  • equality


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