The president of the Institute for Educational Assessment (IAVE), Luís Pereira dos Santos, acknowledged that the “ideal conditions” in schools to move forward with digital national tests are not yet guaranteed, but guaranteed that there are alternative plans in case something fails.
This week assessment tests begin for students in the 2nd, 5th and 8th years of schooling which, for the first time, will be done in digital format: Instead of a ballpoint pen, more than 250,000 students will demonstrate their knowledge using their computer’s keyboard and mouse.
For the president of IAVE, Luís Pereira dos Santos, the digital transition “is an inevitability” of the current times and it was necessary to take advantage of the “window of opportunities”: The Ministry of Education had a plan to distribute computers to all students, increase the teacher training and improve the internet network in schools.
Added to this was the 12 million euros of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) to set in motion the project that defined that in 2025 all national tests and exams will be in digital format.
However, in an interview with the Lusa agency, Luís Pereira dos Santos acknowledged that conditions in schools “are still not idealbut IAVE tried to develop a system that could mitigate these difficulties”.
School principals have warned against internet network problems in some educational establishments, especially in the most remote areas, and for the lack of IT experts capable of resolving any technical problems that may arise during the tests.
In response, the IAVE has designed models that allow tests to be done “online”, but also in an offline process “where the internet is not needed or where it is not always needed”, he explained.
In the case of the offline process, there are two options: Use a local network or each student’s computer as their own server.
Schools install an application on the server and at a certain time, “which will not be five minutes before the test”, they can download the tests.
The president of IAVE believes that students will not even notice any difference, “they will think they are accessing a browser and the internet”.
In the end, the schools synchronize with the IAVE servers and download the tests: “They just need the internet before the test and after the test, without the need for very high bandwidth, because we know that schools still don’t have these conditions” , said Luís Pereira dos Santos.
Schools can also divide students into two shifts, in which the second group of students begins the test immediately after the first one finishes, without them being able to cross.
“We will certainly improve. Not everything will go as we would like in the first year, but it is a process under construction that we want to do with the schools”, he said.
Scouting tests start this week: Between the 2nd and the 11th of May, the students of the 2nd year will test Arts Education and Physical Education, two areas in which the old model is maintained.
Between the 17th and 27th of May, the exams for the students of the 5th year and 8th yearwith the digital tests taking place in the subjects of Portuguese, Study of the Environment, Mathematics, History and Geography of Portugal, Natural Sciences and Physical Chemistry, Information and Communication Technologies and English.
For the most anxious teachers and students, Luís Pereira dos Santos suggested that they visit the IAVE ‘site’, where digital tests are available with “examples very close” to those that will be presented in the exams.
In recent days, several parents have stated that they will not send their youngest children for benchmarking.
In response, the president of IAVE recalled the results of the pilot test which showed that the performance of the 2nd year students was similar to that of those who took the test on paper, both in terms of size and quality of the texts written on the keyboard.
“Do not be afraid of these tests, they do not imply extremely refined digital skills by our students”, he said, guaranteeing that digital “is no bogeyman”.
Assessment tests are important to assess students’ knowledge, identify their difficulties and work in these areas, but they do not have weight in the students’ final grade.
On June 16th, the 1st phase of the final exams of the 9th with the discipline of Mathematics.
According to the IAVE schedule, this is the year in which a group of 9th grade students participate in the pilot project of digital tests which, in 2024, will be extended to all 9th grade students.
In 2024, it will be the turn of a group of secondary school students to test digital exams so that by 2025 all tests and exams will be digital.