Aga Khan Academy Mombasa has adopted a computerized electronic examination assessment platform ‘e-Assessment’ that has transformed the sitting and evaluation of the school’s exams, eliminating courier costs for exam papers, as well as leakages and losses in transit.
“The need to ensure complete security for exam papers while eliminating any bias in marking answers is paramount in a healthy and thriving education system,” said Bill O’Hearn, Head of AKA Mombasa.
“With this new system, we have achieved a guarantee of these basics, in a deployment of new technology that can, in time, render to history the problems associated with printing and distributing hard copy exam papers.”
The platform, which was launched at the school in June 2016 under the International Baccalaureate (IB) organization’s Middle Years Program(MYP), has made it possible for Academy students to take online modified exams tailored to challenge their creativity and critical thinking skills.
“The e-Assessment has made it easier for students to adopt technology and incorporate it in the most important aspect of their learning, which is testing their abilities, improving their skills and level of attentiveness,” said Esther Nondi, AKA Mombasa’s MYP Coordinator.
An eight-year study by SAT I performance involving students at Brewster Academy released in 2002,showed that students who regularly used laptops or computers increased their combined SAT performance by an average of 92 points, from a potential 1600 points, just through their use of technology.
But the online e-Assessment takes student engagement a step further by testing students’ knowledge on a digital platform.
e-Assessment on-screen platform software is installed into computers by the MYP Coordinator, who accesses it immediately prior to the exam starting time and instructs the local system to notify the IB server that the platform is now online and ready for the impending exam.
“The platform has greatly enhanced efficiency and credibility, since the exam is downloaded safely from a secure site. The timing of the exam duration is automated and on completion, the student responses are automatically scrambled and uploaded back to the IB site,” said Ms Nondi. The scrambling of the data ensures there are no cases of hacking the exams, or answers, since they are encrypted and cannot be read or reproduced without being unencrypted.
Students are registered beforehand and given login details which are used to access the exam, during the course of which no other activity can be carried out on the screen, allowing students to focus only on the test. “Once open, the system cannot be closed or minimized. The e-Assessment has a window period of being live for, at most, 5 hours, after which it becomes inaccessible. At the end of each paper, the software scrambles each student’s response file and begins automatic upload to the IB secure site,” said Ms Nondi.
The e-Assessment, which was first used by AKA Mombasa’s Year10 students in June this year has given students more experience in understanding and applying concepts in a way that can be assessed from their written submissions online.
“The beauty of IB is that it focuses on concept, by applying high order thinking and contemporary skills to basic life situations. This has made learning very relevant and practical,” said Johnson Monari, an English and Literature teacher at AKA Mombasa.
Mr Monari said the incorporation of the e-Assessment platform has been revolutionary for the students and the teachers, since the IB organization marks the exams solely through this system.
“When using the manual hardcopy exams, teachers have to go through the long process of marking, which sometimes brings about inconsistencies when judging a student’s work, but through e-Assessment the exams are submitted directly to the IB for marking and the results sent back,” he said.