About 41,000 pupils in Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 from across the country will begin five days of testing later this month to have their knowledge and ability assessed.
Pupils prepare for five days of tests
DUBAI // About 41,000 pupils in Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 from across the country will begin five days of testing later this month to have their knowledge and ability assessed.
The UAE National Assessment Programme (UAENAP) will begin on November 25 at schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Over the course of a week, students in Grades 3 and 5 will be tested for 45 minutes in English and Arabic reading, writing and spelling, as well as maths and science. Students in Grades 7 and 9 will receive testing in the same subjects for 60 minutes.
The tests were developed by the Ministry of Education with the help of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), which started a similar project with the Ministry of Education in 2003.
That project was later scrapped after a change in management at the ministry, but was revived on a larger scale this year to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of individual students, schools and the education zones.
Results from the 2003 project were never made public, though some educators said at the time that student performance was several levels below the benchmark.
Ayesha al Shamsi, UAENAP manager at the ministry said they had piloted the programme in certain grades but, from this year, they will be held annually for all the four grades.
"The tests have been localised and will assess the students previous knowledge as well as their capability with some higher level questions," she said.
The results will also provide a clearer picture of the national state of education, by establishing a set of averages for schools, emirates and the country.
Teachers will be trained to use the test results to measure progress and develop personalised learning approaches for students. Comparative data of the schools and zones will reveal how they compare with other schools.
Alan Egbert, the Middle East manager of ACER, said the tests were developed to assess students on their thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills.
"The tests are based on a scale, which has a spread of items from easy to difficult," said Mr Egbert.
"For example, for a third grader child, the easy questions will be from the ability level of a Grade 2 child and the hardest questions will be from the ability level of a Grade 4 child."
For language assessment, evaluators will consider the students' reading, writing and spelling skills. "Their comprehension and vocabulary, expression and ability to spell words appropriate to their age will give an idea on whether they are learning as expected in their grade," said Chris Freeman, a research director at ACER.
In maths, multiple choice questions on topics including numbers, geometry and measurement have been included.
Ghassan Jarara, the English Supervisor of the Sharjah Education Zone, said the tests were necessary to judge the level of the students and the schools. "According to the results, we can put together remedial courses and follow-ups to improve the outcome of the students," he said.
Mr Jarara said some of the previous tests conducted by the ministry showed some schools to be performing below the benchmark."With more training on analysing the results, schools should be able to work on their shortcomings."
Parents will receive a detailed report of their child's performance in April 2011 so they can work with the teachers to address problems and improve their outcome.
Mahmoud Mohammed, a parent of Grade 5 pupil Majed at a public school in Ajman, said information from tests that are skill-based and not restricted to questions in the textbook will provide a better picture of his son's progress.
"It is useful if we can use it to work with the teacher to help the children learn better and raise their level," Majed's father said.
Abu Dhabi Education Council has yet to announce how pupils in the capital will be assessed.