Paper Exams: It’s a Numbers Game

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Research conducted on behalf of TES has revealed shocking results. The research predicts with great accuracy how many words students must write to get a good grade in English exams.

English teachers up and down the country will now be able to accurately answer the age old exam question;

‘How much do I need to write?!’

Extremely long answers don’t seem to deliver the best results and students have been able to attain good results with relatively short answers. It has emerged for GCSE English essays that there is a base of around 700 words to be in the top percentiles. However after 700 words grades either remain the same or begin to diminish. The study cites an example of two students who wrote in excess of 1200 words but only achieved a grade C in the essay. This is contrasted by a considerable group of pupils who were awarded an A* having only written around 400 words. You don’t need to strain your wrist to get the bests grades. It really is quality rather than quantity.

Source: TES.com

The research also revealed an absolute minimum to grade at all with papers of less than 200 words all being graded U. There is also a grade B threshold of 300 words; no papers under 300 words managed to get higher than B. On average the group of student who do achieve A*- B  write slightly longer answers. High quality condensed answers seem to be favoured by examiners.

Even for the longest essays, the average mark achieved by candidates never reached the top A* grade boundary. The research concluded that the best strategy is to write two pages of A4, with clear and accurate paragraphs. This statistically gives the pupil the best chance of being in the top percentiles.

However beyond the 700 word threshold there is no real correlation between grades and words written.

It is only now that we are able to gain insights like this, perhaps because of the techno-phobia of schools and examining bodies. The reality is that many children can type faster than they can write. We inhibit the child’s ability to achieve the best possible grade because of the medium we force them to do it in. English teachers always say;

“Your hand writing doesn’t matter that much as long as the examiner can read it.”

Researcher argue that hand writing bares little representation of academic ability. You may have been shocked by your GP’s or even solicitors hand writing, but you wouldn’t think them incompetent or incapable. This is not the case however for examiners. Whilst the examiner will try to extract what the child has written, they can be forgiven for not trying as hard once they have marked 300 identical papers. The vast majority of professional writing is typed, every  position now requires a high level of computer literacy. Like it or not, handwriting will become more of a novelty, as we swap pen and paper for smart phones and laptops. We should all work hard to make paper a thing of the past, there is a certain irony to cutting down trees to write biology questions about trees.

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Now you can do your bit as well; why not set up class tests, quizzes and activities online. DesignaTest lets you set multiple choice and exam style questions and marks them automatically!

 

Generate Tests All Over The Globe

You can now generate online tests no matter where you are in the world. It is working wonders for developing countries.

Schools in the UK can help schools in the developing world by sharing their knowledge online. As we eek into an evermore globalised and connected world, the need for an international testing standard will only increase. A major problem for employers is that they now have job candidates from all over the world but struggle to assess the weight of an applicants qualifications.

One way to help the developing world is by sharing the bank of knowledge and resources we have in the west using new technologies. Some developing countries have standardised national exams, some do not, however it is now possible to share exams written by experts across the globe.

At DesignATest we have a test bank where teachers all around the globe can access exams written by renowned professionals. It also works in reverse in that teachers in developing countries can also share their exams. This offers insight into curriculum’s all around the world. It also allows teachers to generate online tests really quickly, and whit automatic marking their workload is halved.

The idea that a child could be doing the online test in London whilst at the same time a child could be sitting the same test in Nairobi is very exciting. As the internet finds it’s way to the remotest corners of the earth it is revolutionising education. Access to infinite information delivered in less than the blink of an eye with the input of keywords into Google. Young, old, rich and poor online learning continues to liberate people all around the world.

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We are in the infancy of something that is changing the world forever. It does however mean more competition in the workplace and it is important to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace. That is no longer a place of endless photocopying and handwritten documents. We’re all worried about AI taking over our jobs, why are we still insisting the bulk of education be done in analogue?

We don’t put ‘computer literacy’ as a skill on our CV’s it’s just expected for all professional positions. In this global market technological expertise is a bargaining chip.

The vast majority of staff in both Twitter and Facebook headquarters in San Francisco are not American. Tech companies struggle to recruit qualified people in the west. This is because of a reluctance to teach computing and internet based subjects.

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Countries like India and China have simply surpassed the west in terms of technological expertise, and the clear focus on Mathematics in Asian education only compliments this.

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With DesignATest you can generate online tests, multiple choice quizzes  in minutes. You get access to a whole world of knowledge.

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SATS Exams Cost The Tax Payer £44M a Year!

The new regime of SATS exams are costing the tax payer around £44m. The Department for Education (DfE) SATS spending has increased by 9% in just one year. Online exams can eradicate the cost of marking exams.
 The largest expense was £20.5 million on key stage 2 marking, according to the teachers organisation TES. They obtained the figures from the DfE through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The new SATS system was designed to compliment a tougher curriculum that was put in place from September 2015.

Ofqual, the exams regulator, remarked that the SATS in the 2015/2016 round were “unduly hard”.

Parents are up in arms about the reading segment of the English SAT; a pupil sitting the exam needs to pass all elements to be at an ‘acceptable standard’.

All whilst teachers unions are concerned about the new system and have threatened boycotts and strikes.

The National Teachers Union has said;

“The Sats fail to provide useful information to parents about how schools perform and don’t tell teachers anything useful to support individual pupils in their learning. Furthermore, the high-stakes nature of primary testing puts unnecessary pressure on pupils and education professionals.”

Staffing alone costs £10.8 million not including other essentials such as the professional skills tests for teachers.

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We Can Cut Marking Costs by 100%!

A major part of the costs is down to the exams being paper based and the logistical nightmare of matching up classes to markers – who may very well be miles away.

SATS are extremely inefficient; like multiple choice sections where the tickboxes are simply crosschecked against a standard marking sheet.

Overlooked all too frequently is the availability of online exams, platforms even mark the tests automatically. If deployed on a large scale the Government could eradicate most of the logistical marking process.

Of course as soon as one suggests computer based examinations, schools and examining bodies begin to fret about cheating. Testing platforms by their online nature present new ways to get round the system; but no more than traditional testing.

Technology has surpassed these fears however given school networks can be easily restricted to produce a fair testing environment.

Online Exams Are The Future

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is transitioning to digital exam content by 2020. The Department for Education is  notoriously slow at adopting technology. There is a real disparity in the Scottish and English approach.

While we wait for the education to effectively enter the digital realm, there are platforms out there for class tests and quiz’s.

Furthermore at DesignATest we think teachers need a break from marking, our online test platform offers automatic grading.

You can easily create multiple -choice, short answer and exam style tests and get results instantly.

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Banning Technology Just Doesn’t Work: Elearning is the Future

Schools throughout the land display large posters of phones with a big red banning sign. They also enshrine harsh reprimands in the school rules for students who bring laptops and phones to school. There’s a state of fear amongst staff that the evils of the internet and elearning will find their way into class. Whilst it is certainly true that internet in many ways make young people vulnerable, but equal so does the fear of it.

It might have worked to ban phones and laptops in schools in the 90’s but social reliance on the internet means rules like this are just unrealistic. We should also examine the aim of banning, is it to somehow get the children to concentrate? Is it distracting? Perhaps. The truth is though that this is inevitable, and the internet is a library you can’t tell them what books to read…

The status quo of the education system is so limiting in that there’s a prescribed curriculum of what kids ‘need to know’ to succeed in life. The internet enables students to learn about the things that interest them, giving them a unique skills set in later life. This is in line with the societal shift about the purpose of education, from preparing us for a life already chosen for us by our social class, to one where students are less limited by this owing to the technical revolution.

The reality is most of the students will use a mobile phone as part of their job in later life. Schools however fail to realise that it is not frivolous digital chatter as a large part of young people lives are online, it is in a sense also a social education for them. It is the responsibility of schools to teach kids how to use these technologies responsibly rather than banish them.

Blanket bans seldom work anyway whether it be for phones, hoodies or crewing gum you just drive the rebellion. With kids possessing multiple devises and a culture based on the internet banning it is regarded as a restriction on their identities. Instead of adapting to the learning this generation needs, the generation teaching them continues to resit the learning they want and need.

So what’s the solution? Put learning online…

Students still need the academic guidance they always have, they just demand it in a different way. Elearning platforms will have their own departments within schools within 10 years, some examining bodies are even shunning paper based exams. 

DesignATest is an academic platform for students, teachers, parents and schools. It offers assessments that give a reliable indication of academic progression, with an interface pupils will engage with. It also harnesses the power of digital based analysis assessing pupils on a range of metrics.

You can create your first test right now and email it out to pupils in seconds. The system also lets you communicate effectively with parents. See what DesignATest does for your class…

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