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When was the last time you were excited about a standardized test?

By Rebecca Young

Never? The IB hopes to change this when MYP students take assessments on-screen from 2016.

RebeccaMiddle Years Programme (MYP) educators and students deserve an assessment that promotes 21st century skills by offering performance evaluation on a global scale. The MYP Next Chapter has energized IB staff, educators, and educational technology experts to create culminating assessments that complement the positive changes we’re seeing in teaching and learning around the world. The language and literature eAssessment pilot in May 2015 produced truly exciting results. Through their thoughtful responses to tough prompts regarding the issues we face as a global community, it felt as though students were ready to jump out of their seats and into action. They were certainly eager to take on challenges and change their world!

Imagine the impact when international assessment encourages ideas and conversations for change and, with help from school communities, motivates students to take action. Take a look at the prompt below from the 2015 language and literature pilot exam. With powerful analysis of homelessness and volunteerism, resource consumption and sustainability, students proposed an impressive range of concrete solutions and reflective commentary.

Task: Imagine you are an individual in one of the images below. Create a descriptive piece of writing about what is happening, how you feel about it and why.

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How do eAssessments compare with moderation?

The new eAssessments offer opportunities that have much in common with the MYP’s previous moderation only model for obtaining IB validated grades. For example, in language and literature, students are still afforded the opportunity to both respond to and produce a range of written and multimedia texts. Their analytical and evaluative skills are tested through the comparison of a written text and film clip. They also have the opportunity to produce literary writing based on a visual stimulus, as well as non-literary writing based on a prompt that emphasizes a global context for each session. Tasks are externally set by the IB, and teacher support materials are available on the programme resource centre. As was the case with moderation, students who participate in eAssessments are eligible for the (new) MYP certificate. As before, student results and general subject reports will help schools focus on how assessment feedback should impact instructional and programme goals.

Why participate in eAssessments?

With innovative tasks that invite students to demonstrate their learning in unique and creative ways, the new on-screen examinations will change the way we all view standardized tests. On-screen assessments that go live in May 2016 present an amazing opportunity for schools to participate in an ongoing international endeavour to understand what MYP Year 5 students are capable of and able to achieve. The 2015 pilot results revealed high student engagement and impressive interaction with multimedia tasks as well as positive, encouraging feedback from students, educators, and examiners. Schools that register by October 2015 will take part in the first live assessments and be part of how the MYP certificate is credited moving forward. Key benefits of eAssessments and a link to register can also be found here.

How should schools manage the transition from moderation to eAssessment?

The challenges that educators may feel in transitioning from external moderation of internally-set tasks to independent on-screen and ePortfolio assessments are understandable. The peer collaboration, standardization procedures, and moderator feedback that are inherent in the creation and evaluation of common units and assessments can be invaluable. At the school level, these conversations should continue to be fostered as much as possible. Schools will access a rigorous, standardized summative assessment that has global recognition – both of the programme and of individual students’ achievement. MYP course results will help schools to identify strengths and weaknesses, modify instructional practices, and inform student course selections as they move into the Diploma Programme. Schools considering eAssessments are encouraged to engage with key documents such as the 2016 Guide to MYP eAssessment; in this guide teachers will find subject-specific assessment blueprints and other essential information. These resources, in addition to specimen examinations, mark schemes and other teacher support materials can help teachers and students prepare for the exams. As always, the best preparation will be interacting with various text types and producing texts with on-screen interfaces. Students need to practice writing with keyboards under exam conditions too since most uses of on-screen technologies in school have more open-ended time frames.

How do eAssessments enhance overall programme goals?

Examiners who participated in the pilot, including many MYP moderators, found that eAssessment offers informative data regarding student understanding of assessment criteria, key concepts and global contexts. Educators will be able to use these individual and school measures to inform globally-relevant instruction, and they will be able to use examples of stimulus material for each subject in their own teaching and learning.

As an extension of classroom discussions and community service learning projects, external on-screen examinations and ePortfolios engage students and foster responses that feel genuinely aligned with the IB’s mission of creating a better and more peaceful world. MYP eAssessment could be transformative in pedagogical and assessment practices moving forward, with opportunities for students to demonstrate not only their individual learning but also the skills they need to be effective and responsible members of global and local communities.

Rebecca is a Language and Literature Examiner from the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School District, North Carolina, USA.