In most countries the onset of Covid-19 had a massive negative impact on examinations, assessment and qualifications because of the decision to stop schooling and national exams, especially as many young people depend on the latter to get the grades they need to go to university or continue along other pathways. The extent to which education systems had incorporated continuous assessment was an indicator of their ability to react and mitigate the effects of lockdown. For example, in Norway 80% of assessment is continuous, so the loss of the remaining 20% didn’t have a significant impact. Similarly, where teachers and schools were given sufficient additional support to deliver alternative forms of assessment, systems were better able to mediate the impacts of closures.
The next big challenge lies in integrating students back into school. The usual loss of learning that happens over summer has massively increased, compounded by issues of well-being and mental health caused by the crisis. It is vital and urgent to develop and apply diagnostic assessments for these pupils to accurately identify what they have forgotten/lost. This will increase the need for a robust personalised approach to teaching and so teacher support is also paramount.
Cambridge can provide formative assessments that accurately measure a child’s potential and progress, including:
• Baseline assessments that support educational tracking – giving measures of an individual's potential and progress through school
• Diagnostic assessments that help inform teachers where interventions may be helpful to improve pupil outcomes
• Attitudinal questionnaires that help to give a deeper understanding of the learning environment as seen by children and young people
• Entrance assessments that help identify the young people that meet the selection criteria for school intake.
Experienced teachers in particular may struggle with the new paradigms because they will have to change their schedules, routines, resources and approach. Bottlenecks around capacity are likely, especially in countries lacking resources
In the long term it is necessary for governments to implement plans and protocols to handle similar crises in the future. This may involve re-examining the curriculum to focus on basic skills to make the best use of the time available, should it become severely restricted once more. These protocols and frameworks should be context sensitive, at national, regional and institutional levels.