Council of Zambia
Developing Assessment Schemes
The Examinations Council of Zambia was undertaking a root-and-branch review of their assessment schemes. They sought guidance on global best-practice in the design of assessment schemes. World Class Arena was commissioned through the World Bank to work with the Council to create templates for new assessment schemes and to deliver training to the Council's leadership team, enabling them to draft and critically review their own assessment schemes.
The Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) is a government institution responsible for the processing and management of examinations at Grade 7, Grade 9, Grade 12 and Teacher Education.
Using funding from Russia Education Aid for Development (READ), ECZ sought to develop capacity in developing assessment schemes for Grades 7 and 9, initially in English, Mathematics and Science.
These new assessment schemes needed to be placed in the larger education framework and linked directly to Zambia’s learning goals for education and the national curriculum. In addition, the project was required to provide training to ECZ staff, developing a better understanding of the process involved in developing an assessment scheme. With this understanding and a Zambia-specific model to draw upon, the intention was that ECZ staff would be able to begin to update the assessment schemes for additional subject areas.
World Class Arena Limited provided assessment consultancy and advice to support the executive leadership team of ECZ in creating and publishing assessment schemes for their school examinations in mathematics, science and English.
The purposes of the assignment were to:
Develop ECZ staff understanding of how to conceptualise and develop an overall assessment scheme which would place ECZ exams in the larger education framework and outline how the exams link to Zambia's learning goals and national curriculum for schools.
Review and refine existing ECZ assessment schemes for English, mathematics and science.
Provide face-to-face training for ECZ executive team staff.
Create a model and process for ECZ staff to use to update the assessment schemes for additional subject areas.
World Class Arena Limited created a framework to structure the development of ECZ's assessment schemes. This framework was based on a review of published frameworks from England, Singapore and the USA, alongside a review of ECZ"s existing exam framework documents. This analysis also provided the basis for designing the training program for ECZ staff.
The main aspects of the framework for ECZ assessment schemes are described below.
Main Aspects of ECZ Assessment Schemes
Describes the uses to which the results will be put, including selection, measuring school effectiveness and formative assessment.
Provides a statement of the underlying skills and knowledge that are to be covered by the examination.
This can also include a summary of the examination components - how many papers make up the exam; the duration of each paper; whether there are any choices or options.
Describes the knowledge, skills and understanding to be covered, length of the tests, questions characteristics and templates, difficulty of the test questions and scoring requirements.
Describes the question types that will appear in the exam, curriculum coverage, difficulty, and any permitted equipment.
Includes instructions and guidance on how test questions will be marked as well as describing any over-arching requirements.
Explains how component scores will be aggregated into overall-test scores and how (if at all) these will be scaled, for example into grades, standardised scores or age-standardised scores.
Explains the features of the tests that are specifically designed to improve accessibility for students.
Describes the rules that schools are required to follow and any areas where school principals can adapt the administrative rules.
WCAL provided ECZ with an initial report, presenting the proposed structure and contents for ECZ assessment schemes, alongside a gap analysis of existing ECZ assessment schemes against the proposed structure.
On the basis of that initial report, ECZ's director and WCAL worked collaboratively to design an intensive one-week training programme, to be delivered in Lusaka. That training programme provided an overview of assessment schemes, workshops and discussion in each of the key content areas of the documents to ensure ECZ staff felt equipped to draft their own documents, and ample time within the training week for staff to create high quality first drafts of the assessment schemes for English, mathematics and science.
ECZ determined that the intervention was successful. Draft schema for the core subjects were produced and a plan agreed for extending these to all school subjects.