Belfast Telegraph

Computer tests were shambles: experts

By Michael McHugh

New computer-based assessments (CBA) of primary school pupils between 2012 and 2013 in Northern Ireland were fraught with problems, it was revealed.

Independent experts strongly criticised the tests, finding that they were brought in too quickly and with too little consultation.

The review said: "The implementation of CBA in September 2012, following testing and assurance work earlier, quickly became fraught with problems."

The online assessments were introduced in 900 primary schools in September 2012 but hundreds of schools complained. The Department of Education said 180 schools reported problems.

Paul Good from Lisburn Primary Principals' Association had described the process as "a shambles".

Reviewers identified 14 key contributing factors/decisions which, if handled differently, would have improved the chances of more successful outcomes.

The team found no clear evidence that the department or assessment body the CCEA developed a detailed analysis of the potential impacts.

The report said there should be an effective mechanism to listen to schools and be seen to be listening.

"A need to build trust and confidence in the solutions has been highlighted, and we agree. There are existing channels, but closer involvement through CBA focus or user groups could be considered."

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