ABU DHABI // When state school pupils return to school tomorrow, they will do so with pencils at the ready for the annual emirate-wide standardised tests.
Up to 90,000 pupils from Grades 3 to 11 will take part in the External Measure of Student Achievement (Emsa) tests in Arabic reading and writing, English reading and writing, mathematics and, for Grades 3 to 9 only, science.
Grade 12 pupils also take the tests, but the marks do not count towards their final results. For the rest of the pupils, these tests account for 10 per cent of their year-end results.
The tests, developed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), are used to gauge the year-on-year progress of each grade and are externally assessed by the education firm Pearson Assessment & Information.
"The Emsa programme is intended to provide information for stakeholders at all levels in the education system, including policymakers within Adec," said Dr Karima Al Mazroui, the council's Curriculum Division Manager.
She said it was crucial to curriculum development that they "measure and monitor the achievement of students over time". Results are used to amend teaching methods based on the strengths and weaknesses identified.
Parents are also informed about the scores to assist them with home learning.
The Emsa tests were introduced in 2008 when Adec revamped the curriculum of state schools. The children are assessed on their reading and writing skills in Arabic and application and understanding in mathematics and science.
Last year's results revealed an average five-point gain. The biggest improvement was seen in the reading skills of Grade 3 pupils, who scored 471 points in Arabic – a seven-point increase from 2011.
"The assessments are based on Adec curriculum standards for Arabic language, English language, mathematics and science subjects," Dr Al Mazroui said. "Content-specific questions draw upon part of the material contained in the learning plans for term one and term two."
Pupils answer a mixture of multiple choice and open ended questions, while composition tasks include writing essays, which pupils have between 20 and 40 minutes to complete depending on their grade.