Education heads log on to online exams over ‘outdated methods’
‘Electronic exams recognise the way students use computers in their everyday lives’
SELENA UIBO NT EDUCATION MINISTER
Online school examinations for Year 12 students will be introduced in South Australia and the Northern Territory while education heads from other states watch closely to weigh up the move towards electronic testing.
In an Australian first, about 2350 stage two English literature students in South Australia and the Territory will sit an electronic end-of-year exam in November, worth 15 per cent of their overall marks for the subject.
Modern history and psychology will be added to the mix in South Australia next year, while NT Education Minister Selena Uibo said she expected eight subjects would have electronic endof-year exams by 2020.
“Electronic exams recognise the way students use computers in their learning and everyday lives and provide a more relevant assessment,” she said.
Problems with this year’s online NAPLAN test, concern about cyber security, computer literacy and connectivity issues, and, more broadly, the disastrous attempt to take the census survey online, have left many interstate education figures wary.
Unions would likely fight the push towards online because it would eliminate an income stream some members tap by marking written exams, one source said.
Internet connectivity and device issues saw several of this year’s NAPLAN tests diverted to paper. An independent technical review has been commissioned.
It is understood debate between ministers at last week’s Education Council meeting about whether to pursue a full national rollout by 2020 was heated.
There also was widespread concern that the new online test was incomparable to those who took the traditional paper version.
South Australia’s Department of Education, which outsourced the development of the online exam portal to SONET Systems, conducted numerous trials and is confident its system is robust.
South Australian Certificate of Education board chair Martin Westwell said written exams were becoming an “outdated method” of assessment, but contingencies were in place.
“If there is a prolonged period of connection outage, students will be able to complete the exam- ination using a like-for-like paper version,” he said. “Students who need additional support can apply to their school for special provisions, with each case being assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania education representatives said they had no plans in the near-term to implement online exams.
A spokesman for NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said beyond a niche “science extension” course that would conduct online exams next year, there were no plans for a larger rollout.