Exam security is one of the biggest problems Kenyan schools have been facing. Cases of cheating during national exam have been on the rise leading to results from some schools being canceled. Most of the time teachers or even parents have always been accused of colluding with officials from Kenya Education Council (KNEC) to leak these exams.
In some instances, exam papers have also been reported missing while in transit to schools in different parts of the country. However, somewhere in Mombasa, the Aga Khan Academy is trying to counter such cases. The school has adopted a computerized electronic examination assessment platform that has transformed the sitting and evaluation of the school’s exams, eliminating courier costs for exam papers, as well as leakages and losses in transit.
Known as ‘e-Assessment’, the system has made it possible for Academy students to take online modified exams tailored to challenge their creativity and critical thinking skills.
“The need to ensure complete security for exam papers by eliminating any bias in marking answers is paramount in a healthy and thriving education system,” said Bill O’Hearn, Head of AKA Mombasa. “With this new system, we have achieved a guarantee of these basics, in a deployment of new technology that can, in time, render to history the problems associated with printing and distributing hard copy exam papers.”
The platform was launched at the school in June 2016 under the International Baccalaureate (IB) organization’s Middle Years Program(MYP) and has made it possible for students to adopt technology and incorporate it in the most important aspect of their learning.
The e-Assessment on-screen platform software is installed into computers by the MYP Coordinator, who accesses it immediately prior to the exam starting time and instructs the local system to notify the IB server that the platform is now online and ready for the impending exam.
“The platform has greatly enhanced efficiency and credibility since the exam is downloaded safely from a secure site. The timing of the exam duration is automated and on completion, the student responses are automatically scrambled and uploaded back to the IB site,” said Esther Nondi, AKA Mombasa’s MYP Coordinator.
The scrambling of the data ensures there are no cases of hacking the exams, or answers since they are encrypted and cannot be read or reproduced without being unencrypted.
Students are registered beforehand and given login details which are used to access the exam, during the course of which no other activity can be carried out on the screen, allowing students to focus only on the test. Once open, Ms. Nondi says the system cannot be closed or minimized. The e-Assessment has a window period of being live for, at most, 5 hours, after which it becomes inaccessible. At the end of each paper, the software scrambles each student’s response file and begins automatic upload to the IB secure site.
The e-Assessment, which was first used by AKA Mombasa’s Year10 students in June this year and the school says it has given students more experience in understanding and applying concepts in a way that can be assessed from their written submissions online.