Conducting remote online assessments

Due to the spread of COVID-19, schools around the world have been required to transition to remote learning at very short notice. School leaders and teachers have had to identify new systems and resources to provide continuity of learning for their students, and are having to adapt to what is a new way of working, especially for the students themselves. 

The last few weeks have proven that technology enables us to do far more remotely than ever before. Yet it may be challenging to gather information to inform your knowledge of your students’ learning and progress.

If you are looking to understand how well distance learning is working for your students or if you simply wish to continue your usual assessment cycle as normal, you may choose to assess your students while they are at home via our digital assessment platform, Testwise. 

While our assessments were not originally designed with consideration of home testing environments, recreating testing conditions will allow students to complete the assessments to the best of their abilities, and schools will be able to utilise the test results to inform decisions about learning in these challenging times.

The assessments we are enabling for remote online testing are the Progress Test Series (PT Series), the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) and the New Group Spelling Test (NGST).

We are also producing guidance for remote testing for some of our one-to-one assessments, namely the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC), Phonological Assessment Battery (PhAB), British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVS3), WellComm Early Years and WellComm Primary. This will be available by the end of April.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of remote online testing for your school, please contact us on 1800 806 185 or renewals@gl-assessment.ie.

FAQs

How can testing conditions be created for remote online testing from home?

Our tests may be conducted online from home, but measures should be put in place to recreate a suitable controlled testing environment. Schools can decide whether to instruct parents in creating a controlled testing environment or whether teachers invigilate the assessment utilising video conferencing.

For further information including our ‘Test administration for schools’ document please contact us at 1800 806 185 or renewals@gl-assessment.ie.

What are controlled testing conditions?

Remote online testing will only be effective if measures are put into place to recreate a controlled testing environment within the home. This means that: 

Schools set a date and time for students to take the assessment

The assessment is explained to the students before they begin

Students complete the assessments independently and are not provided with any additional/external support

We have created test administration documents for schools, parents and students on how controlled testing environments can be created from home which discuss the above in greater detail. Again, please contact us to discuss further.

What is remote invigilation?

Remote invigilation is when an assessment is completed online in a location, such as at home, using a PC or laptop with internet access and access to a webcam, instead of at school. 

The student is connected to a live invigilator from their school via video conferencing software who will check that the right student is sitting the assessment and will monitor the student for the duration to ensure no external support is provided to the student while they are taking the test. 

Does it matter if students sit the test at different times?

We would recommend that schools aim to emulate ‘normal’ test conditions, including advising students and their families of set dates and times at which test sittings will take place. Within the restrictions the school sets when establishing a sitting in Testwise, students will be able to complete tests at any time within the school’s set testing window. This might be useful if a student is unable to take the test at the set time due to illness, for example.

How many students are allowed in one sitting?

The maximum number of students to a sitting is 300. If you have larger cohorts, you will need to schedule more than one sitting. Also, if you wish to utilise video conferencing for invigilation, sittings with smaller groups will better allow for this.

How many students can be invigilated online in one sitting using video conferencing software such as Zoom?

The number of students that can be invigilated utilising video conferencing software will depend on the software you have selected and the nature of the license you hold. Practically it may prove difficult to observe more than 15 students in a session so, if you are assessing large groups, you may need to involve more than one member of staff and/or schedule in different testing windows.

Are there any security issues with remote online testing from home?

There are no additional security issues created by using home testing. Your students’ data will be as secure as it is when testing in school as long as you are using an up-to-date operating system and regularly run anti-virus and anti-malware software on your machine. The child takes the test online using an access code and is therefore not sharing any of their personal data.

While our assessments were not originally designed to be taken at home, creating controlled testing conditions will allow students to complete the assessments to the best of their ability and schools will then be able to utilise the test results to inform decisions about their learning. 

What browsers does Testwise work on?

For teachers to access Testwise securely to create a remote online sitting, they should use a computer operating Windows 10 or Linux or an Apple MAC with an up-to-date internet browser. Testwise can be used on all the main browsers including Chrome, Google, Firefox and Safari.

Does it matter if students access tests using different types of hardware?

There is no evidence to suggest that test outcomes are adversely or positively affected by a student’s choice of electronic hardware.It may be that individual schools wish to encourage the use of resources that are consistent with those used within the school environment, but this is not essential.

Does a student access a test in the same way as he/she would do in school?

Yes, each user will require an access code, as they would in school, as well as access to the usual www.testingforschools.com/code website that is used all-year round.

Do students need headphones for the digital tests?

A number of our tests have audio, and this can either be heard via the speakers on the student’s chosen device or via headphones. We would recommend the use of headphones to aid students’ concentration, but their use is not compulsory.

What if something goes wrong during the test? For example, technical issues or a student is interrupted.

If a student has a technical issue, this should be reported back by the parents to your school. If you are unable to resolve the issue, please contact our Technical Support team directly for assistance at tech.support@gl-assessment.ie or on 1800 806 185. In order to allow any technical issues to be resolved in a quick and efficient manner, we would advise that only schools contact our Technical Support Team.