5.1.1 Electronic adaptations to assessments reduce costs and turnaround between data capture and analysis
Student assessments provide critical information about learning and program performance but assessments can be complicated undertakings, with significant operational and logistical challenges. Pen and paper-based forms of assessment are unwieldy and costly. Comparing assessment results across groups requires standardized instructions and testing conditions. Once assessments are administered, it may be months before information arrives in the hands of teachers. This prevents educators from adapting their teaching to reflect the pace and diversity of student learning.
Ministries of Education around the world struggle with how best to assess student learning, and specifically literacy, given budget constraints. The Education Development Center (EDC), a global nonprofit organization that designs, delivers, and evaluates education, health, and international development programs, examined early grade reading assessment to see how technology might improve implementation and data collection. Pen- and paper-based tests required numerous staff for data entry and data cleaning. Results did not make it to teachers until eight to ten months later. EDC found that Excel was ubiquitous and, when run on macros, had a high level of functioning. They developed an electronic version of the Early Grades Reading Assessment (eEGRA) to respond to assessment needs and challenges in diverse settings, including conflict-affected areas.
eEGRA is a free electronic tool that adapts the paper-based Early Grades Reading Assessment, developed by USAID, for computer use. The tool includes standardized instructions, a built-in timer, and a built-in database that reduces human error during testing and data collection. The tool has been utilized in the Philippines, West Africa, Kyrgyztan, and Tajikastan. It can run on any laptop or netbook and administrators can be trained in less than a day. Assessment administration still requires training to ensure validity but technology reduces data turnaround time to under a month.
The EDC is developing a similar tool targeted to out-of-school youth that would benefit the YEO field. The tool has been pilot-tested in Liberia for students up to grade level six. For more information, see http://eegra.edc.org/