Students with disabilities were given hours to apply for laptop access during NAPLAN, after the Victorian curriculum authority reversed a decision to deny more than 100 students laptop access the night before the test.
The Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA) decided on Monday to reverse their decision to reject 108 applications for 'assistive technology', including computers, laptops and ipads. Over 300 applications were initially approved.
Schools were contacted by phone or email the day before NAPLAN's first test. Students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and motor issues were affected, said the authority.
"The VCAA has now approved all applications for assistive technology that meet the guidelines and all schools have been able to successfully provide the accommodations," a spokesman said.
Children and Young People with Disability Australia's executive officer, Stephanie Gotlib, said the case was "hauntingly familiar", after the authority made a last-minute decision on her own child's access to adjustments for their VCE exams last year.
She said it was great that more students with disabilities were given access to the laptop, but "why do they find out so late?"
"It's totally unacceptable that we can have an education department that talks about wanting to support inclusive education and promote access and equality for students with a disability, yet this achieves the opposite. This just causes anxiety."
Parent Heidi Gregory, found out at 5pm on Monday about the VCAA's decision. NAPLAN started on Tuesday.
She hurriedly contacted her daughter's principal at Yarra Primary School, who secured laptop access for 10-year-old Phoebe, who has dyslexia.
Ms Gregory said the incident was shambolic and many students who were entitled to the technology have missed out.
"I am surprised that this has happened in the very last minute; lots of schools will be ill-prepared to provide support for children ??? it's extremely unfair," she said.
"The mental health of some of these kids will be affected, especially those who are doing NAPLAN for the first time. My daughter for example has developed some anxiety related to this."
Ms Gregory said Phoebe was allowed to sit the test in a quiet room and was given extra time, but she did not originally apply for a laptop thinking it was not available to students with dyslexia.
She said many other families were in the same boat.
"We are getting calls from parents who say they are not able to use a laptop and didn't even know one was available, and are feeling very upset and anxious their children may have been provided with ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) support and are not.
"The only way a parent can find out what accommodations students can get is if they go to the VCAA website, and unless someone sits down and explains it to you, I don't think parents know what they can get for their child with a disability."
Charli Mihalek, a 13-year-old student with dyslexia at Beaconhills College will miss out on a laptop this year.
Her mother, Gil, said parents and schools were simply not being informed about the disability support that is available to them.
"It would have been nice to be given the option," she said.
"There is a lack of information to the schools and the parents about what we can apply for and even how to apply, I have no idea who I would even go to to apply for accommodations other than the co-ordinators at school."
The adjustments for NAPLAN are permitted in line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which state that reasonable adaptations must be made to help ensure students with disability are not disadvantaged.