Going to university? Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose your university based on actual results, not on mocks or ‘guesstimates’?
Do you employ new graduates or trainees? Imagine hiring them quicker so they can perform their induction and job shadowing before everyone goes on holiday? As a learner, wouldn’t it be nice to go on holiday without worrying about what the exam results could be?
Today, (August 8) learners in Scotland received their scores from National 4 and 5, Higher, Advanced Higher and Scottish Baccalaureate exams. A recent poll suggests a substantial majority would trade faster exam results for completing assessments on-screen. The benefits of completing assessment and exams on-screen are proven and benefit many people, not just the learner.
So, what’s stopping us? Why the wait? The current Scottish regime for the 2016 exams lasts 47 working days from the day of the last exam (3rd June) to results being released (9th August). The organisational challenge to process over 500,000 exam scripts from over 132,000 learners through 473 schools and colleges is culturally deep-rooted and logistically demanding.
There are three operational strands to consider.
1. Find incremental gains within the existing paper-based systems. This can include helping examiners with accessible, intuitive systems, helping them to do what they do best – accurate marking, judging and grading.
2. Deploy on-screen delivery of the exam, removing the need for scanning scripts. The technology is prevalent outside of the school exam arena, and is a remedy for learners who have accessibility issues with paper delivery (believed to be 11%-13% of all learners, or over 17,000 for this particular cohort).
3. Build exam papers that test knowledge, understanding and skill application which utilise question types that provide immediate result processing. The whole paper need not exclusively use these question types – hybrid papers of short and long questions are common place. Reducing the burden on examiners on grading basic knowledge questions will expedite the whole process.
In 2016, we can substantially improve learner outcomes by radically shortening exam result turnaround time with proven, existing learning technology. Here's a pragmatic, three-step target.
40 working days (end of July) sends a signal that learners are being put first and there is a positive will to change practices, demonstrating continuous improvement.
30 working days (mid July) would see a gradual, controlled introduction of on-screen
delivery, especially for those learners who have accessibility issues with paper delivery.
20 working days (last working day of June) sees the majority of exams delivered on-screen,
but still allows time for moderation or other post-event quality assurance activity.
If we are to continue with summative, terminal assessment for these learners, then the priority need to be on reducing the stress of waiting on results (and the impact on families,
Imagine completing exams at the start of June, and receiving the results by the end of the month. You could enjoy the Edinburgh Festival, choose your university, start a job and enjoy a full summer, all before Wimbledon starts!