Examining the Examiner
E-Technology in Examinations
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council’s vision of becoming “...the centre of excellence within the sub-region and beyond in Quality Assessment in Education”, is in more practical terms, to create an ICT driven organisation. The worldwide trend in the ‘Assessment Community’ is the move towards ICT driven systems, procedures and processes in assessment.
Fear of the unknown posed the biggest threat to the system but, as time went on and as users began to appreciate how this technology improved the way they carried out their business, the system has gained both the organisation’s and stakeholder acceptance.
The hardware challenges expected have also been largely resolved through sharing in clusters and subsequent acquisitions by those centres that initially did not have their own equipment. The improved revenues in collected levies (now only used for development projects) have seen virtually all centres acquiring their own hardware.
E-marking is the electronic marking of candidate’s examinations scripts and is the global trend in marking the candidate’s examination script. This method of marking, as mentioned above, reduces the amount of human interface, unlike in belt marking, therefore reducing the risks of undetected human error and prejudice. Once the script is scanned into the system where the e-marker software is, the examiner marks and allocates marks according to the set answers that would have been inputted into the system. This means, if there is an error or query pertaining to the marks, the system is able to pick it up immediately and the Chief examiners are able to attend to it. With e-marking, there is real time delivery of marks, that is, the marks are automatically sent to the ZIMSEC database. In essence, the turnaround time for marking is significantly reduced because there is no bulk handling of scripts and there is no filling in of mark sheets after the marking session.