LONDON (12 May, 2022) - Onscreen assessment has the potential to deliver wide-ranging benefits for learners, teachers and the exam system as a whole – but will need to go beyond recreating the current system online and will need sector-wide practical and cultural change to be successful, says Pearson.
In a new report published today, ‘Spotlight on Onscreen Assessment’, Pearson has brought together the views of expert roundtable discussions and polling of the education sector to identify the opportunities of technology in assessment and the barriers to change.
Those involved include former Education Secretary Lord Blunkett, Dame Alison Peacock from the Chartered College of Teaching and Dr Mick Walker, President of the Chartered Institute of Education Assessors.
Polling of 1,100 teachers revealed 77% support greater use of technology in both teaching and assessment – with more than half (51%) saying they would adopt onscreen assessment now if it was available in their subject area.
While demand is clear, 95% agreed that they need more training in technology for teaching and assessment too.
Key findings from the research:
- We need a system of assessment that better reflects the world we live in and which relates to the government’s wider digital skills agenda.
- The technology already exists for onscreen assessment – now all parts of the system need to work together to reduce the practical and cultural barriers.
- A transitional approach is needed – and while this isn’t ‘big bang’, the progress will help build confidence in system change and more transformational thinking around the opportunities technology could unlock.
- Change needs buy-in from everyone working in the school system and teachers need support and training to build confidence in the shift to digital assessment.
Dr Mick Walker, said:
Our education system is yet to exploit the use of digital technology in the delivery of high-stakes examinations and is out of kilter with developments in the teaching and learning process we now find in our schools, much of which has been accelerated by the pandemic.
But introducing technological approaches to high volume, high stakes qualifications require considered thought, careful planning and system-wide trials if we are to avoid any pitfalls.
Based on solid research, this new Pearson report goes beyond the technological practicalities of onscreen assessment of high-stakes examinations to consider the wider implications for pedagogy, curriculum design and the wider cultural barriers to implementation. As such, it sets out the ground for the next stage of discussion and takes us closer to realising fundamental and worthy change, not only to the way examinations are delivered, but how we prepare and support our young people for the future. As the report reminds us, the technology is already here. We now need to make the next move.
Hayley White, Director, Assessment at Pearson, said:
The technology for onscreen assessment is already well advanced and well-used in professional and vocational assessments.
Now, to fully achieve the potential of onscreen assessment for GCSEs and A-Level we will need to work together as a sector to ensure that teachers feel confident and capable of delivery, learners have a great experience and we remove any barriers to access.
Today's report comes as more than 6,000 students across 254 schools prepare to take Pearson’s first GCSE with an onscreen component this month – GCSE Computer Science.
And 700 students at seven schools in the Middle East and Europe will sit their International GCSE in English onscreen with Pearson as part of a pilot scheme that will expand if successful next year. In mock exams for this qualification taken in November 2021, 95% of students said they found working with technology easy and 77% said they would rather take the exam onscreen.
During the 2021 lockdown period Pearson also delivered 4,000 student mock exams completely onscreen, with exams being taken online with results delivered electronically.
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