THE NEW EXAM EVANGELISTS
However, one of the most obvious blocks on the road to
“ If you rely on
a single high-stakes
test, then you will
always leave room
for fraud “The classic assessment business stakeholders tie them-selves
in knots about security,” Stead explains. He thinks
the very nature of testing itself is going to change, and he’s
“Fraud is in the classroom too. Whether people do the
test online or with pen and paper, if you rely on a single
high-stakes test, then you will always leave room for
fraud,” adds Bielik.
Continuous assessment can not only solve security
issues, but be formative as well. That’s the philosophy
behind TrackTest, an online English language test which
users can access for 12 months and take multiple times
while monitoring their performance.
CEO Brano Pokrivcak, a philologist-turned-technology-
entrepreneur, explains that the clue is in the name. “When
you drive a race car, you don’t improve your performance
during the races,” he says. “You improve when you are
track testing: you do the track test, go back to the garage,
fix your car, then try again. That’s what we offer.”
Thorp at Trinity College London adds that some univer-sities
are already shifting from a high-stake admission test
to a portfolio of evidence. “If you can evidence across the
board, this seems more persuasive to institutions,” he says.
A digital future?
So what will future tests look like? Pen and paper tests
will “hang around for longer than anyone imagines,” Stead
acknowledges, nodding to the reality of fast internet acces-sibility
globally. But the push towards fully AI-rated exams
is quite strong, according to Thorp, who mentions Chinese
projects such as iFlytek.
However, the predominant model for the near future is
a blended AI-human marking. Polkrivcak says that for the
next five years at least that won’t change, although AI will
Examiners don’t need to worry about losing their jobs
anytime soon; they’ll just need to get used to sharing their
desk with increasingly smart algorithms – for a few more
years at least.
ISSUE #19 | THE PIE REVIEW | 21
universal access is that not everyone has access to tech-nology.
Cambridge Assessment English has been working
with other organisations to increase access to education for
refugees, Rogerson explains – and while technology plays a
role in it, it’s not the only solution. “It’s important to remem-ber
that there is still a digital divide that is not going to be
overcome in the short-term,” she says.
Another problem, By Degrees CEO Danny Bielik thinks,
is that governments, employers and certifying bodies are
still ambivalent about e-learning qualifications. By Degrees
offers mobile-delivered courses and exam preparation and
is particularly active in India. “There is a lot of talk around
trends, trends towards MOOC, towards e-learning, and the
fact is that where education need is the greatest, the new
trend hasn’t delivered in outcome,” he posits.
High stakes and ongoing assessment
There is no limit to what the testing industry will deploy
to guarantee security on high-stakes tests, exams used for
migration or university application purposes. Frightening
invigilators and fingerprints are now being substituted by
webcams and browser-blocking software while remote
proctoring is carried out by raters trained to spot instances
of “malicious behaviour”.
“Security and validity are our highest priorities,” Dewar
says. While some are suspicious of digitally-delivered
high-stakes exams, others make the point that technology
can actually improve security and surveillance.
But others think that no amount of technology or human
invigilation will guarantee total security on high-stakes
tests, and that a shift is coming.
While some are suspicious of digitally
delivered high-stakes exams, others
make the point that technology can
improve security and surveillance.