eAA Newsletter Issue 11
Welcome to the new eAA newsletter!
It is amazing to think that we have arrived at the end of the year – where has 2015 gone?! For the association the year has seen further improvements to our website and members of the board speaking at various events around the UK including two of the ever popular policy-focused Westminster Forums, where there was a welcome focus on e-assessment.
We have also seen a continued increase in our individual membership, which now stands at over 1300, as well as sponsorship from a number of new corporate members including AAT, Axia Interactive, Cirrus Assessment, Coelrind and EnlightKS. Our increasingly active eAA LinkedIn group now has over 650 members and if you are not yet a member I’d strongly suggest you join as this is a great mechanism through which to find out about e-assessment trends and best practice, as well as being a great place to initiate a discussion or post your thoughts.
Finally, I’d very much like to welcome Karen Pernyes, who has recently joined the eAA as Membership & Marketing Coordinator, taking over from Geoff Chapman who needed to step back from the role due to taking on a new full-time position. I’d like to publicly thank Geoff for all of his hard work in this role until earlier this year, and also the wider board for all of their efforts throughout 2015.
Seasons Greetings, and I hope that you enjoy reading this newsletter whilst relaxing over the festive season.
Matt Wingfield, eAA Chairman
- Article by Alison Rogers, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors
- Case Study: eCom Modernise IWCF Assessment
- Pearson VUE / learndirect’s computer-based testing merger inquiry
- eAssessment in the News
- Thank you to our Sponsors
- Thoughts from Educause 2015, by Geoff Chapman
- Looking ahead
In addition to Karen joining us in October, we also welcomed four new members to our Board this year. Jay Ashcroft from Learnmaker, Tim Burnett from BTL Group, Heather Chesley from RM Results and Helen Claydon from Standards and Testing Agency. They all join us at an exciting time, as we review and work to improve the value we offer all of our members. Watch this space for new announcements for our plans for 2016.
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Article by Alison Rogers, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors
Assessment seems to be the current buzz word in education. Next year will see the introduction of baseline assessment for reception-aged pupils. Meanwhile, the recent publication of the Department for Education’s report on Assessment without Levels comes at a time when teachers are getting to grips with developing their own methods of evaluating pupils’ work.
We are entering a brave new world of teacher-designed assessment, particularly in primary schools, which offers opportunities for classroom practitioners to exercise their professionalism in the way we would expect them to – unencumbered by central diktat and control and tailored to the needs of their pupils. These are exciting times, but that is not to say it is going to be easy. There will be challenges along the way, not least defining and identifying what good assessment and best practice look like.
The expectations on schools using the common inspection framework are a good place to start when trying to understand what is required. Ofsted inspectors will spend more time looking at pupils’ work, talking to school leaders about how they use assessment and evaluating how well pupils are doing against relevant age related expectations as set out by the school and the national curriculum. They will look at how schools use assessment information to inform parents about their children’s progress and, crucially, how formative and summative assessment are used to improve teaching and learning. This is important because any assessment process must be linked to the curriculum and how it is taught to enable pupils to make progress. Assessment must form part of the whole-school strategy for improvement.
In order to do this successfully, teachers must understand what assessment is and what it is for. Sadly, too little time is spent on this in initial teacher training so it falls on schools to ensure that staff have enough of the appropriate continuous professional development and training. Teachers must feel confident about what they are doing, and that the assessment methods they are using, or have designed themselves, are fit for purpose and familiar to colleagues across the whole school, so that standards of progression and performance are understood, articulated and shared.
Teachers must also understand what it is that is being assessed. It is not necessary to assess everything, but certain objectives should be arrived at in individual schools and communicated to staff so everyone knows what is expected.
At the CIEA, we are in the process of piloting our Foundations and Principles of Assessment programme at a number of schools, which is aimed at developing teachers’ knowledge and skills in implementing good practice as well as supporting school leaders in developing effective assessment policy. But whatever methods are used, classroom practitioners must be supported by their senior leaders and, from the top, by policy-makers. The DfE’s report recommended that each school or learning alliance should have at least one specialist leader in assessment, . This would put assessment up there with pedagogy and subject knowledge in the suite of skills that professionals bring to the classroom.
The DfE and before it, the National Association of Head Teachers’ commissions and subsequent reports have laid the foundations for what effective assessment systems should achieve and look like. This needs to be put in the context of what Sean Harford, HMI and Ofsted’s National Director, Education wrote on 17 July, in the ‘Roundup from the Ofsted 2015 inspection reform events’: ‘’School leaders should therefore not seek to devise a system that they think inspectors will want to see; it should be one that works for their pupils with the sole aim of supporting their achievement.’’
We must all now help and support schools in striving to make this happen.
Back in June, the eAA hosted it’s first twitter chat, which explored eAssessment insights, good practice and examples. It was a good start and we’d like to host and support more of these in 2016. Initially we looked at these three questions:
Q1: What life moments are now measured with eAssessment?
Q2: How do we know #eAssessment has become mainstream?
Q3: #eAssessment enables auditable evidence gathering of student learning – will this help push #feltag on?
You can read the twitter chat here
Please send your ideas to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org Topics could include FELTAG, eAssessment myth-busting, scalability…..what would you like to discuss?
Follow us on twitter @eAssess
Case Study: eCom Modernise IWCF Assessment
IWCF is a governing body to the oil and gas industry which oversees all training aspects. With a large number of employees taking exams and additional certificates it was clear to eCom that IWCF would need an easily accessible eAssessment portal to evaluate candidate progress. The aim was to make the whole training and assessment process more responsive and user-friendly for candidates, training providers and assessors.
eCom worked closely with IWCF to understand and analyse their business needs. IWCF reached the realisation that they needed to update to a more efficient automated on-line assessment management system to allow all training centres and candidates to register for exams. The company commissioned the FORUM project that would allow examiners to monitor the students’ progress and grade assessment papers more efficiently, manage the certification process, and provide a managed process to deal with question authoring and translations.
eCom stressed the importance of digitising assessment when it comes to assessing modern-day exams. Working closely with IWCF, eCom developed a Management, Certification and Assessment system to deliver on-line exams to a global audience of oil and gas industry training providers.
IWCF is introducing a new online administration and examination system to complement the new five tier system of Well Control training introduced in response to OGP Report 476. Administrators needed a single platform for reviewing candidate details as well as monitoring exam development. There are particular aspects in this project that need specialist delivery methods which are not usually available in standard assessment platforms. eNetAssess has been configured into a bespoke system developed around IWCF’s business processes and needs.
The eAssessment tool developed by eCom provides the following functionality:
- Allow candidates to register, update their details, locate a centre, participate in assessment
- Allow centre users to schedule assessments, view results, signoff results, and check certificate validity
- Allow invigilators to invigilate assessments and perform check marking where required
- Allow assessors to monitor practical
- Allow IWCF staff to view (and edit and delete where specified) information on candidates, assessments, employers, centres, assessors, invigilators, branches, documents, administration units, members, delivery notes and certificates
- Allow external users to check the validity of a certificate
- IWCF are now able to easily access their candidate information, monitoring the skills of thousands of personnel across the industry. Moving them from the management of traditional paper assessment to a new digital service has modernised the company’s exam offering and allowed examination procedures to become more effective.
The bespoke administrative portal implemented by eCom will improve the way IWCF staff interface with candidates, improve the assessment and provide comprehensive reports to inform administrators so they can pinpoint essential information within a matter of seconds which will enable a much greater level of consistency when it comes to marking practical course assessments.
Client Quote – “IWCF have been working with eCom Scotland for over 12 months on an innovative and dynamic exam delivery solution. During this time the eCom team have displayed a proactive and solution based approach to development and have offered excellent customer service, technical advice and support throughout. We have been delighted with the results to date and we look forward to working with eCom on future IWCF projects.”
Pearson VUE / learndirect’s computer-based testing merger inquiry
In October this year, the Association reached out to it’s members to gather opinions on this Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Inquiry, with a view to then passing on any insight and information from our members to Phase 1 of the inquiry. This is the latest announcement from GOV.UK
16 December 2015: The CMA has referred the anticipated acquisition by Pearson VUE of learndirect’s computer-based testing business for an in-depth phase 2 investigation.
UPDATE: Since the newsletter was published, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) received assurances fromPearson VUE and learndirect Limited that the anticipated acquisition has been abandoned. As such, the inquiry has been cancelled. Read the latest here
eAssessment in the News
The latter half of 2015 saw a raft of new product releases, significant contract wins, new partnerships and collaborations.
From the new collaboration between five leading Awading Organisations and assessment system provider, Coelrind Ltd, creating The Awarding Consortium to the new partnership between BTL and Prometric, we watch closely as companies look to work with each other for the benefit of the learner.
With Cirrus Assessment announcing a new contract with Erasmus University College, Rotterdam, we also brought you news of Prometric’s new MegaCentre in Chicago with the capacity to provide more than 45,000 candidate testing appointments per year.
Keeping you up to date
We aim to update our website as the stories come in at https://www.e-assessment.com/news/
The eAA can only be effective in sharing news to a point without your input. If you see any news stories or hear something on the grapevine that you’d like to share, just email Karen at email@example.com and we’ll help to spread the word to you all.
Thank you to our Sponsors
We would like to thank our Sponsors for their support through 2015, without whom, much of the work carried out by the Association would not be possible.
Cambridge Assessment, City & Guilds, Learndirect, RM Results.
AAT, AlphaPlus Consultancy, AQA, BTL Group, Digital Assess, SQA.
Assessment Tomorrow, Axia Interactive, Calibrand, Cirrus Assessment, Coelrind, eCom Scotland, EnlightKS, Prometric, Scholar.
To find out more about any of our sponsors please click here. If your organisation is interesting in finding out more about sponsoring the Association, then please do get in touch with our Chair, Matt Wingfield at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts from Educause 2015, by Geoff Chapman
Indianapolis in the United States is a true bucket list location for petrol heads, hosting the Indianapolis 500 race every Memorial Day in late May. With a similar population size as Glasgow, Indianapolis is placed firmly in the Midwest of the United States – go to Chicago and head south.
n late October, I visited the Educause conference at the Indianapolis Convention Centre/Center. Held over four days, the event is a first-pick for US higher education CTOs and CIOs when they review their conference budgets. Over 7,000 higher education IT professionals attend on-site in Indianapolis, and this year more than 400 registered for the online conference representing nearly a further 2,000 individuals. On leaving the immaculate airport, visitors are welcomed by the sight of the winning 1987 Indy 500 car. Driven by champion driver Al Unser (in his last competitive race at the age of 47), the March Engineering car is a British engineering success story – the chassis was made in Bicester, England, powered by a Cosworth engine, made in Northampton.
Warming up in the Educause exhibition area, I spoke with plenty of booth workers who had clearly spent a lot of effort and money to be there. I particularly liked the Start-up Alley where new businesses had great ideas and innovation, while trying to reach this particular audience without the meaty marketing budget. Publishers, ed tech big beasts and IT behemoths alike were all present and correct.
The US university and community college sectors are witnessing seismic changes with international students, pathways and funding as key issues needing to be addressed. Despite the turbulent nature of the sector (especially with a US election next November) and increasing competition for students, it was surprising to hear that some activity is behind the curve with the European experience. For example, the US has fewer in-progress apprentices than the UK, which is surprising given the relative scale of the countries. With industries such as car manufacturing suffering significant trauma due to outsourcing, affected cities like Detroit see vocational training as a way to not only boost job creation, but reinstall pride and higher skilled careers.
The Obama administration has pledged almost $200M to encourage better access to community colleges and on-the-job training. However, with both public and private entities being awarded Apprenticeship Grants, the dash for students with efficient programmes, powered with education technology, is now on.
Equally, if the Heads Up America campaign for two years of free community college comes to fruition (with $60bn of funding), we should expect to see learning and assessment providers move quickly, using technology and methods that we’ve been using in Europe for some years.
Talking with the Educause CEO, John O’Brien, it seemed that the numerous Educause conference sessions are tackling a wide variety of subjects, but this year learner engagement and the use of outsourcing for non-core activities are two receiving a lot of delegate attention. I mentioned to John how the National Student Survey (NSS) scores we have in the UK HE sector are shining a light on both of these areas (as well as assessment practices) and how students have insight, but are now active consumers, challenging their educators in many different ways.
As England’s FE sector rides through choppy conditions with the traineeship/ apprenticeship policies, the US experience not only wants to give a pathway for success, but seeks to tap into a progression mind set (or the American Dream, if you prefer) of high-value careers, and creating intrinsic worth/ pride for the home country.
Taking the night-flight home, I thought about these differences. The sense of pride in the United States for showing the iconic, winning English-built Indy car to visitors. The technology expertly developed and created back in Northamptonshire that seems to go unheralded back home.
While there’s no doubting the skill of the driver and his team, the English car is being displayed as an all-American success. If we start recognising and celebrating successes like this, it will help to change mind sets to recognise vocational accomplishments (World Skills Days aside) and high-scale achievement. Policy makers would do well to engage with vocational, global success stories like the March Indy car to provide inspiration, rather than dwell on an industrial process that codifies vocational learning into a one-size-fits-all template.
In our next newsletter we will bring you news of the work eCom Scotland are doing with the RNIB on Accessible eLearning, a Q&A with Tim Burnett of BTL Group on the evolution of paper examinations and a report from the Assessment Tomorrow Conference held in January in Edinburgh.
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