Three As Pertemps were finding it difficult to get young people to come to the centre and do Key Skills paper tests, mostly because they seemed uninterested in learning and doing more tests after leaving school. When operations manager Lynne Salisbury was told about e-assessment, she knew it would be good for her company because it sounded new and innovative "“ she felt it would give the centre the cutting-edge. Once signed on, Lynne and her team did the training in half a day. "After learning the technicalities of the process, I had an idea. Why not have the software available on a few laptops so we can go out to employers premises or wherever our students are to do the tests," said Lynne.
"E-testing at our centre and on the laptops has completely transformed the process. Earlier, tests were paper based only and could only be done on certain days and if you missed them you had to wait till the following month. It also used to take up to eight weeks to get the results "“ so if someone failed it would take months before they could re-sit the test. Now its only a matter of hours, from registering to getting the results "“ and if someone fails we can book another test for them almost immediately," she added.
Lynne says, "We now have people coming in who wouldnt otherwise come. They seem to like doing it much better on the computer, whether its psychological I dont know but paper tests remind them of school. It also means they actually practice the tests at home, and I have seen an improvement in results since we started using computer based testing."
One of the learners Lauri ONeill, 19 said: "Im no good at doing exams, I never have been. I tried the new method and felt it was a lot better. Doing the tests on paper was like doing them under exam conditions and that made me feel uncomfortable. Now I prefer doing the tests on the computer."
The Trainers have experienced a lot of benefit from the flexible system. Gill Aston, one of the training officers at the centre feels doing the tests on the laptops outside the centre has had huge implications: "It means the learners are in their own environment and dont see it as an exam anymore. It definitely takes the pressure off.
Some of the benefits associated with e-assessment are increased efficiency, flexibility and choice, to name a few. It means the centres are in control of the qualifications and timetables they deliver. OCRs e-testing offers faster results and an efficient administration procedure. Only one internet connection is required for centre administration. Candidates are not online during the actual test "“ the tests are completed offline, offering the candidates a reliable, efficient and secure test experience.
The software is provided free of charge, and OCRs electronic testing system is designed to run using a centres existing PCs, laptops or network. No dedicated server or other special hardware is required. With the introduction of the Secure Network Administrator (SNA) software, OCRs e-tests can now be delivered seamlessly in centres with networked computers. The software allows centres to install e-tests onto a single PC or server, which then communicates with the candidates testing PCs.
Three As have already been helping two larger centres get accustomed to the new assessment system. In future the team hope to be doing all their tests on the computer. Three As Pertemps Training Limited is one of the largest training providers in the Nuneaton area, working with over 100 local businesses, delivering Modern Apprenticeship and NVQ's to over 300 learners as well as delivering e2e programmes.