It is long past time to abandon paper-based examinations

chinese exam g edit

The ‘exam paper’ has been around for the last 14 centuries and it is still going strong. The way things are going, the exam-paper looks likely to outlast even the news-paper.

But it shouldn’t. Paper-based exams are a hideously-unreliable method of assessing competence. Here are some of the major reliability problems of Continue reading

How much does your school spend on marking?

I have yet to meet a single head or senior teacher who can answer this off the top of their heads, but it is easy to work out using government-published figures.
  1. Teachers work 55.7 hours/week total1, and spend 9.4 hours/week marking2. That’s 17%.
  2. The average teacher salary is £28,9513, but we have to add the employer’s NI contribution of 13.8% to give an employer cost of £32,946, ignoring all overheads.
  3. 17% of £32,946 of is £5,601. That’s what we spend on marking per teacher, per year.
  4. The average secondary school employs 654 qualified teachers, so the total cost per school is £364,053.
I’ll repeat that. The average state secondary school spends well over a third of a Continue reading

Set an exam using Quick Assignments

Sam Hucker from Winterbourne International Academy asked me this question this morning:

I have set up a partial exam for my BTEC Engineering students. Is there a way that I can set up further questions where they have to type paragraphs or free sentences in larger
quantities? Continue reading

How to calibrate quiz percentages to levels or grades

calibrationIf you look in your gradebook for any given student set, you will see that all the results are reported in the grade scheme you chose for that set. It’s easy to take that for granted and not think about how it is achieved – at least I hope it is, because we have worked hard to make the enormous complexity of that task invisible to casual users.

Although teachers very rarely challenge the accuracy of Yacapaca results, I do occasionally get asked about their Continue reading

Disapplying National Curriculum levels: the official Yacapaca response

Yacapaca delivers criterion-referenced assessments. This makes it very useful for doing things like predicting exam grades, because exams are based on tightly-standardised criteria. A Grade C is the same in Barnsley as it is in Basingstoke. At the upper secondary stage (KS4 in England) we have been able to support a wide spectrum of qualifications, and given teachers a reliable tool with which to measure progression.

The English National Curriculum levels have allowed us to do the same at Key Stage 3. The levels are sufficiently well defined that we have been able to Continue reading