Having teachers who are comfortable working with educational technologies and students who are familiar with an online learning environment will be crucial as we move forward into the future. The ACS International School in Egham and Doha have been working to build a digitally advanced environment, making it seamless for them to adopt the Middle Years Progamme (MYP) eAssessment.
ACS Education Strategy Director Robert Harrison says that “Egham and Doha have already been building digital competency that the assessments are driving. Teachers are used to thinking about how things play on-screen and how to engage students in that sort of thinking. It’s one of the things that allowed them to pivot somewhat more easily.” He also believes that being technology forward sets a school up for a higher level of success in any environment.
Using data for education planning
A school can only be successful if its students are succeeding. At ACS, we analyze data from the MYP eAssessment results and use it for educational planning. Robert believes that “It’s important for the students to understand the connection between effort and achievement at this age.” He also thinks that it’s good for them to celebrate their achievements and sometimes, it’s an important reality check on ‘I will have to work harder if I intend to meet my own educational goals.’
ACS teachers also conduct a sophisticated analysis of the students’ results, all the way down to the question level. That’s because the IB provides data on what percentage of students got each on-screen exam question right and what percentage got it wrong. The teachers then come up with possible reasons why students got a question wrong, including whether a skill needs to be highlighted for the next cohort
ACS International Schools see this data and the MYP eAssessment as an important part of its continuous improvement cycle. “We have protocols for as nonjudgmentally as possible looking at what does the test say,” Robert explains. “And then, based on what the test says, we have a whole series of questions to ask about it. So, it’s not, ‘Oh, my goodness, something must be wrong here,’ but ‘That is interesting to notice. What can we learn from it?’”
Preparation for the DP
Both Egham and Doha find that the MYP eAssessment prepares students for the Diploma Programme (DP). The exams highlight the student’s strengths and weaknesses, flags potential concerns and allow them to choose their standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) subjects. Robert says that “we have clear evidence from students that because they’ve been through an assessment cycle, they’re not as intimidated by the DP exams as they might have been. And so, the student experience is a really big payoff because most of our MYP students will sit the DP exams.”
“You need to understand why you’re doing it and all the implications of how to do it”.
More importantly, ACS parents appreciate the way MYP eAssessment warms their kids up for the DP exams because many of them see those exams as high-stakes. They like that the eAssessment is moderately low-stakes because some parents are concerned about putting 16-year-old under the pressure of taking examinations. “We work hard with parents to help them understand that the consequences for underperforming are not tremendous at this point, that it’s a good exercise for kids and that students often actually enjoy the examinations,” says Robert.
Benefits of the MYP eAssessment
Aside from students excelling, ACS teachers have gained many benefits from the MYP eAssessment. It provides a clear benchmark from which to backward plan the programme, it gives teachers confidence that what they are doing meets global standards and that their hard work is validated.
The MYP eAssessment even offers them professional development opportunities, as they can become examiners, exam writers and workshop leaders. Teachers also become aware of the need to have digital-friendly classrooms because the on-screen exam should not be the first encounter with exam technologies. Robert says that “in terms of teaching strategies and tools, everybody does a really good job of incorporating that into teaching and learning along the way. It’s not ‘We’ll learn like we always did, and then the last semester, we’ll learn a few new digital tricks when we practice.’”
Advice for schools
If you are looking to implement the MYP eAssessment, Robert has a few suggestions to consider. He says that “You need to understand why you’re doing it, you need to understand all the implications of how to do it, you need to communicate clearly to all stakeholders—the students’ parents, the governing body, other teachers in the school all the way down through the Primary Years Programme (PYP)—that this is coming.”
From a technical standpoint, he suggests making sure the IT and infrastructure teams know the technical requirements and ensure that the curriculum is clearly aligned and mapped to ensure engagement of all topics. He also suggests that teachers plan to incorporate educational technology effectively.
Robert believes that the MYP eAssessment provides a rich way to determine whether they are doing the programme with integrity and fidelity. “I think that schools that are serious about the programme should consider it because it provides such a lot of positive influence on the way the programme is done”.
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