Starting this year Azerbaijan’s education system has moved to a new assessment method regarding the results of the nine-year education of students at secondary schools.
The newly-developed national assessment method stipulates testing of knowledge through open-ended questions along with test exams. This March-April, 115,000 students have already participated in this examination, which differed from the previously used test system.
To further improve the system and ensure experience exchange, the State Examination Center of Azerbaijan invited expert mission from Slovenia within the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) instrument of the European Union. The “e-marking” system used by the SEC for assessment of the exam tasks requiring written answers and essays were reviewed by the senior experts of the National Examination Center of Slovenia (NECS) and the experience of Slovenia in this field was learned.
During the four-day assessment period, the SEC staff made presentations on the activity of the SEC, “e-marking” system used during the exams, preparation of the assessment materials, preparation of the assessment criteria for the written answers, development and performance appraisal of the markers, appeal process related to the results and content of the exam, publishing, scanning and delivering the written materials to the markers, analyzing the exam results, efficiency of the tests and assessment criteria (including essay) during the mass exams and had discussions with the Slovenian experts. Experts shared the experience of Slovenia and other EU countries in comparison.
In Baku, the foreign experts also met with the Chair of the Board of Directors of the SEC, Maleyka Abbaszade. The parties had discussions over the education system novelties and underlined the benefits of the cooperation within the TAIEX instrument.
Speaking at the press conference summarizing the results of the experience exchange program on September 28, the expert mission highly assessed the national e-marking system.
“This system is good, since one student does not depend on the opinion of one marker. In this case objectivity will be much higher,” said Andrejka Slavec Gornik, the head of the Examinations Department of the NECS. In accordance with the new system (e-marking system), specially selected markers (teachers) check the work of students. To ensure fairness answers of each student will be checked by two teachers from different regions of the country. But despite this the novelty causes some doubts whether presence of human factor appropriate for the transparency of the marking process.
Chairman of the SEC Maleyka Abbaszade said that the introduction of new type of assignments is related with the transition to the curriculum system nine years ago in the education system of the country and application of new standards.
“That’s why, exams will also be conducted on new tasks, based on the new system,” she added.
“Over the past 20 years, only test questions were used in the exams. In the last 10 years we started to include 1-2 open-ended questions in each subject block. This year the figure was five. The number of such questions will be even more in the new exams to be held in 2019.”
Talking about it Gornik told Azernews that subjective factor is unavoidable in e-marking.
“Subjective factor should be present when you use open-ended questions. You cannot avoid that, but as I understood you arrange two markers to mark each questions. So I believe you will not lose so much objectivity. But sometimes you must risk a lot of objectivity to get more validity of the test,” she said.
Assessing the e-marking system, Head of the IT Department of the NECS, Matjaz Urank said: “We exchanged experience this week with the colleges from the State Examination Center. I got a lot of useful information. I have some insight in your e-marking system.” Urank further informed that Slovenia has a little bit different experience.
“You have developed your own softer. We have high release commercial softer from other company. But we have to consider this system to our needs. Because this softer is used by many different examination bodies. Of course it has a lot of different functionality that could be useful for our center and for other centers. But of course your softer was developed exactly to your needs. So it is tailor to your demands and it does exactly what you want the softer to do. So, currently if you are satisfied with that, it looks like you are, I do not see much additional functionality. For example for quality we also use double marking but not in all questions. We did not exactly test the system. But from what we have seen it looks like it suits your needs very well,” he said.