NZQA hires UK company to provide online marking

The days of sitting NCEA exams with pen and paper are numbered after the New Zealand Qualifications Authority signed an agreement with a British IT company to provide an online system aimed at helping with the marking of digital exams.

More than 1000 Otago and Southland secondary school pupils sat NCEA digital pilot examinations last year, instead of the equivalent paper-based examinations.

They were among about 8000 pupils from 53 schools across the country who participated in digital exams, and the number is expected to surge in the next few years.

NZQA plans to offer 14 NCEA exam subjects online this November, comprising 35 exam sessions across levels 1-3, or about a third of the total exams offered.

More exams will be available to sit on digital devices in 2020.

To help mark the digital exams, NZQA has hired RM Results to create an online ''e-marking platform'' called RM Assessor, which will allow the New Zealand exam marking community to mark NCEA exam scripts efficiently online using ''flexible, feature-rich marking tools and processes''.

RM Results technology is used to mark more than a million pupils worldwide every year.

NZQA deputy chief executive Andrea Gray said the RM Results contract followed that signed late last year with SoNET Systems Pty Ltd, which would provide the digital exam platform.

She said the second major contract signing meant the key agreements were now in place to deliver NCEA Online this year.

''Students are enthusiastic supporters of digital assessment.

''They tell us it reflects the way they are learning and living, with technology at their fingertips.

''Engagement and co-design with schools will continue to be a crucial part of ensuring we get it right.''

The Government has granted funding to enable NZQA to continue building the systems needed to offer NCEA exams online.

NZQA is adopting a staged approach to providing NCEA online and has already completed several years of trials and pilots with schools.

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