All about National Assessment simulation and digitized marking of papers

Big emotions for the 8th grade students who are taking today the first test of the simulation of the National Assessment exam, the one for the Romanian Language. Here's how the exam will be conducted, step by step, what digital correction entails, what are the risks of this method and who opposes the new evaluation system

Students will receive their results on February 23. Photo source: archive

The students of the 8th grade take today the first test of the simulation of the Romanian National Assessment exam. Tomorrow is the Mathematics test, and on Wednesday – the Mother Language test. This year, the papers will no longer be corrected manually, but digitized. We are talking about a method by which the authorities try to make the corrections system more efficient. Student assessment should be faster, simpler and more accurate. Therefore, only advantages for students.

Not for some teachers: “Some are unhappy that they will no longer be able to check in that center, that they will no longer be able to consult with each other. There were situations when teachers graded a paper with the same grade as the first assessor, without doing any further checking. Basically, the second teacher assumed from the start the grade given by the first. Now they have no way to do that because they don't know each other, they are from different parts of the country. Both teachers must take responsibility for the grades they give. Cam has to put the bone to work“, is the opinion of Iulian Cristache, the president of the Parents' Association.

At the same time, Iulian Cristache accuses that there are teachers who send to the simulation only the students who they think are sufficiently well prepared, and they induce the idea to the others that it would be better not to show up.

“There are teachers who encourage certain students not to participate in simulations. It is about children who are not well prepared. The reason? When, after the simulations, the grades are disastrous, the school inspectorate must intervene. To propose remedial classes to fix these student gaps. Some teachers want to stay in a comfort zone, without big hassles and do well on the report”explained the father for “Adevărul”.

He advises parents to encourage their children to support the simulations as this is the only way they will know exactly where they stand in terms of knowledge. “To get used to the state of the exam, the stress, the way they have to sit down, write, attack a subject. I don't see why there is so much pressure on children from parents. The latter have a lot of fears and should not”, says Iulian Cristache. “If the grade is going to be low, this is just an alarm signal that tells him, in fact, to the parent that the student must work more, to catch up”, he shows.

Mock exams are training for children. “We can talk about very good students who can get stuck and who can make mistakes. But not because they don't know the subject, but because they don't have the experience of an exam. Parents should let go of the pressure of grades. These are just a barometer,” Iulian Cristache concluded.

The mock exam, step by step

During the three exam days, students will be able to enter the classrooms until 8.30am. According to the procedure, they sit one by one on the bench, in alphabetical order. At 9:00 a.m., the sealed envelopes containing the subjects are opened.

Each student receives a typed booklet. In the right corner they write their name in capital letters, all the first names in the order in which they appear in the identity document and the father's first name. The corner of the work will not seal. It will be checked by the assistants in the room, and then signed. “If we were to scan the sealed work, we would never know whose it is”, explained Sorin Ion, secretary of state in the Ministry of Education. Secrecy of the work will be carried out in the platform intended for digitized evaluation after uploading it.

Students also receive stamped drafts. If they do not fit in the space provided in the booklet to solve a topic, they can ask for additional sheets. These are lined sheets on which the writing of the work continues and which will be attached to the brochure, by stapling. Children have two hours to solve the requirements, from the moment they finish filling in the identification data. For the development of the written work, students use only blue ink or paste. For the math test, they can use drawing tools. The use of computing devices during the tests is prohibited. The results obtained in the national simulation of the National Assessment are not made public and are not contested. Grades are not listed in the catalog unless at the written request of the parents.

What does digitized assessment entail?

What happens after the papers are handed in? Because only from now on, practically, the novelty of these exams begins. Teachers scan them in the presence of students using special scanners, connected to a laptop or computer on which the digitized assessment application is installed. “Students' works are booklet-type, stapled, and you can't feed them into regular scanners, so special ones were needed. The operation is very simple, the scanner has a physical and a virtual button. The scanning is done without the secrecy of the first page, with names and everything (…) After it has been scanned, the physical work is placed in an envelope, sealed, kept sealed, we do not go to it”, State Secretary Sorin Ion also explained.

Once entered into the application, the papers are randomly distributed to two evaluator teachers who also correct them digitally. The final mark is the arithmetic mean to two decimal places, without rounding of the marks awarded and calculated by the IT application on the platform. If the difference between the two grades is greater than one point, the paper is automatically and randomly sent to two other assessors. Then, the final average is calculated again taking into account only the evaluation of the last two teachers.

The Minister of Education, Ligia Deca, said that more than 90% of the teachers who have already tested the digitized correction said that it is more effective. The official claimed that this method eliminates proofreading mistakes. “Mistakes due to fatigue are eliminated, that work of passing the points on the scale is eliminated because the platform, when marking different items, automatically adds them up, and there is also a much simpler possibility of randomly submitting the papers “.

What are the risks of digital correction?

The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education Sorin Ion said that he is not afraid of the problems caused by technology, but rather of “human error”, which he expects. “A possible human error would be to skip scanning a page or scan two pages at once. This is the real test for us, because there are a lot of people involved, for this we have purchased almost 12,000 scanners that have been distributed in schools since last summer, and the higher the number of people, the greater the risk of errors occur is greater, and this is a good opportunity for us, this simulation, because here we also allow ourselves to make mistakes. We learn from mistakes”, explained Sorin Ion.

Iulian Cristache, the president of the Federation of Parents, sent a message on social media urging parents to put their fears aside and send their children to the mock exam. “Dear parents, why the fears about these simulations? Let the children go to them, regardless of their level of training – by the way… there are directors who advise some students not to come -, they will get used to the stress, exam, way of working, etc. Leave the neighbor's goat too, that one works, that one doesn't, that… that… And it's not our job to scan. There is procedure, there are scanners, leave the teachers unhappy. There are other interests there. Of course, there may be problems, but the Danube will not overflow. It is resolved. Success!”he transmitted.

5 questions and answers about digitized correction

In order to dispel the fears of parents regarding the correct evaluation of works, the Ministry of Education has published a guide that answers a series of questions. Here are the most important of them:

1. What happens if the internet does not work or works poorly at the examination center?

Students' papers will be scanned at another exam centre.

2. What happens if the platform experiences technical difficulties?

We will intervene quickly to resolve them. There are specialists who will promptly intervene in such situations, the ministry assures.

3. What happens if a job is uploaded to the scan platform incorrectly?

The evaluator teacher has the possibility to signal this in the platform (“unreadable work” button), and it is rescanned and reloaded into the system.

4. How to proceed if not all pages of the work are scanned?

In the platform there is information on the total number of pages of the work. Discrepancies between the actual number of pages of the job and the number of scanned pages may be identified.

5. What happens if the students' writing is very small and the teachers have difficulties in the digital examination of the works?

The platform offers the possibility of resizing the image. Practically, the work can be enlarged as needed.