Streamlining the marking process of one of South Africa’s most important examinations
Now, more than ever, countries around the world are realising the transformative power new technologies can have in the world of education. Digital tools have been a lifeline to institutions globally having played an important role in the continuation of learning and assessment. Some educational bodies had already taken steps to make the most of such technologies. The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) in South Africa has made important progress towards harnessing the vast potential of new technologies to drive enhancements to the country’s education system by implementing e-marking.
After engaging with Lebone, a local print and scanning company, GDE used RM Assessor to deliver a scheme for the e-marking of the matriculation examination. In order to give stakeholders the confidence that examiners marking on-screen is directly comparable to them marking on paper in terms of results awarded, a number of non-live pilots were held on matric examinations. In these non-live pilots, examiners assessed matriculation papers which had already been marked in the traditional way. These results were then compared to ensure that the onscreen marking was at least as accurate.
“This technology has the potential to change the way we mark papers forever. For decades we have stuck with manual marking and all its drawbacks - it's time consuming, costly and with potential for error. But this pilot has opened up a new way of working and it is really exciting.” Examiner, GDE
In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, live e-marking of 60,000 exam scripts was successfully undertaken. This included scripts for both the Senior Certificate and National Senior Certificate exam papers. The project was closely scrutinized by both the Department of Basic Education and Umalusi, to ensure that no student was disadvantaged during the pilot and live marking stages of the exam.
Streamlining the experience
The e-marking solution allowed GDE to streamline the marking process in a number of ways by:
Enhancing the examiners’ role by allowing them to cut down on administrative tasks. Examiners regularly mentioned that one benefit is the automatic tally of total marks, eliminating the need for manual adding and checking on each paper.
Reducing the pressures of the previous marking system which had required examiners to travel, sometimes for 3-4 hours, to marking centres.
Allowing access to real-time data showing how marking is progressing and how students have responded to particular questions, enabling them to analyse that insight and feed it back into the education system to improve the curriculum.
Connectivity issues tied to the continent are provisioned for on the platform used by GDE. Examiners can work offline and once the connection is restored, they can send it up to the cloud.
'The future is bright'
On-screen marking has real potential for the South African education system, as clearly demonstrated by this live marking session. Universally popular with examiners, and proven to deliver no bias to results, e-marking has the scope to revolutionise the way exams are marked across the country, delivering fair and accurate results by using innovations in technology.
"I am absolutely 100 per cent behind this programme. It's going to be really exciting to see how this can change the South African marking system for the better. The future is bright!" Examiner, GDE