Teachers support on-screen exams – but access to technology is the biggest challenge

Published: Thursday 28 Jul 2022

School leaders and teachers overwhelmingly support the introduction of on-screen exams and view the change as ‘inevitable’, according to a new report commissioned by AQA.

However, they believe that technology in schools and at home is the main obstacle that will need to be addressed if a transition to digital assessment is to be completed successfully and fairly.

We commissioned an independent consultant to produce the report, On-screen exams: what school leaders, teachers and students think, which includes a TeacherTapp survey of 3,816 secondary teachers. The research has been carried out to support our major on-screen assessment pilot, launched at the start of 2022, with findings due to be published in the autumn.

85% of teachers surveyed believe that on-screen exams could be possible within the next five years – and 75% believe that on-screen assessment will be a good thing if the challenges are addressed effectively.

However, 87% of teachers say that their school infrastructure would need updating for the successful introduction of on-screen assessment.

In the most economically deprived areas, 86% of teachers believe their students don’t have enough access to technology at home to prepare for digital exams. Even in the most affluent areas, a large majority of teachers (61%) feel the same.

Among senior school and trust leaders interviewed for the report, support was dependent upon a national project to address the challenges.

Almost universally, senior leaders called for a government-led, national project to establish clear technology standards, expected levels of accessibility and nationwide implementation supported by targeted funding.

AQA’s Chief Executive, Colin Hughes, said:

“This report emphatically demonstrates that most professionals regard the shift to digital as not only inevitable, but also desirable. Yet it also highlights how we’ll only be able to get there if the whole sector works together.

“The move to on-screen exams can’t be achieved merely by heaving on a great technological lever that transforms exams overnight. We need to spend time trialling and piloting on-screen exams.

“We believe the next two to three years could be spent working out the best mode of delivery, which challenges we need to address, and how best to move to national introduction of the first GCSEs and A-levels to be delivered on-screen. That way, we can carefully evaluate whether on-screen exams will be more secure, more adaptable, cheaper in the long run, greener, more easily and accurately marked – even fairer.

“To that end, AQA has already begun piloting GCSE on-screen trials in schools.”

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