Examining the Examiner
A glimpse at the future of Educational Assessment
It is the beginning of a new year, and as it is with most people and organisations, we took a glance back to see our achievements in the last year. Today, the Assessor is taking a look forward, with wishes, dreams, goals and targets which may turn into reality.
Educational Assessment worldwide, is ever evolving and moving forward. The student today is different from the yester year student. Where the oldies played with dolly houses, wire cars and sat down promptly and 5 p.m. to watch ‘Rainbow’ or ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ on the television, our modern child plays games on the laptop, tablet or play station, googles the latest movie and watches it on the smart phone and admires only cartoons with supernatural powers. A difference of worlds indeed. Authors such as Enid Blyton and C.S Lewis had widely read books, they remain today because some have been turned into films or movies which appeals to the technologically adept generation. With all this in mind Educational Assessment must look at how to move technologically so as to capture the full potential of the student as well as evolve with the learning platforms.
E learning has become quite a phenomenon with students being able to access modules and tutorials on computers. At higher levels of education, on can acquire degree on line and even attend ‘virtual’ lectures. David Hawley, Chief Academic Officer, International Baccalaureate , in his article titled, ‘The Future of Educational Assessment?’ seems to sum it up in a statement that reads “Contemporary adolescents have grown up with tablets, video games and a rich array of interactive social media. They deserve academic assessments that value what they already understand.” What would this mean? It would mean using technology in the stead of manual paper, as is the worldwide practice at the moment. It would means technological advancements to assist in the setting, compiling and marking of the examinations.
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council has a vision ‘to create and ICT driven organisation’ and has taken great strides towards the realisation of this vision. E marking, which ZIMSEC now runs without assistance from the software provider, has become a strength which other Examinations Boards in our Region and possibly the broader Africa are taking a leaf from. Every year ZIMSEC hosts groups from other Examination Boards who are coming to understudy and learn during our live e marking sessions. The adoption of e marking for most subjects has cut down the marking time and has put in stop gap measures to ensure quality assessment which is tracked and dependable.
The Grade Maker is another advancement in which brings efficiency and security to educational assessment. It not only allows the Assessor to write items and bank them online, it also aids in the compilation of the set papers. It allows access to archived information which helps inform those in charge of the processes to see quickly how ‘topics, subtopics and skills have been assessed in the past this knowledge can feed into improving item authoring’. It will also reduce human interface with complete scripts enhancing security levels of the examinations process.
As a nation ICT has become a fundamental base for all commerce and industry in the realisation of the national transformation plan. As ZIMSEC, we are looking a taking great strides towards being driven by technology, in standard assessment practices and in the enhancement of security of examinations.
Continuous assessment which has been introduced by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is all part and parcel of a forward looking nation whose desire is not only maintain, but improve standards in teaching, learning and assessment. The teachers being the ones who are in day to day interaction with the student, are now able to meaningfully contribute to the holistic assessment of the child. Together we work towards assessment that is holistic and fair giving every student the chance to excel at what they are strong in, carrying a life skill that will jumpstart them into their future.
Website: www.zimsec.co.zw; WhatsApp: 0772768817; FB: Zimbabwe School Examinations Council- Zimsec Public Relations