Implementing large-scale computer-based assessment in schools

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Implementing large-scale computer-based assessment in schools

This paper is directed at policy makers, administrators and assessment developers contemplating the introduction of computer-based assessment at a regional or national level. It draws heavily on ACER’,s experience in organising computer-based assessments for the OCED’,s Programme for International Assessment (PISA), which commenced with a limited computer-based assessment of science in 2006 and progressed through the computer-based assessments of digital reading in 2009 and of mathematics and problem solving in 2012. This experience is unique in that no other computer-based assessments of similar scope and complexity that assess students in schools have been organised to date.Delivering computer-based assessment requires both hardware and software infrastructure. The choice of implementation model is constrained by a number of practical considerations, in particular whether the schools involved possess appropriate hardware and software, what alternatives to school-based infrastructure are available, and the level of security that is required. Three implementation models are described: internet delivery from an external host, portable applications that run under a computer’,s native operating system, and “,live systems”, that (temporarily) replace the computer’,s resident operating system. Each model is discussed with regard to its local and external infrastructure needs, the level of security it provides, and its relative advantages and disadvantages when compared with the other two models.The paper includes an outline of architectural issues, such as assessment navigation, timing, and accessibility that impact are usefully considered from the onset of planning for a large-scale computer-based assessment.Keywords: assessment methods, large-scale assessment, computer-based assessment, assessment design.

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