How Cambridge CEM assessments can help get teaching and learning back on track
– Nivedita Bose, Senior Education Manager, South Asia, Cambridge Assessment International Education
Schools in India are set to partially reopen, but for students the return to school this year may not feel like normal – at least not for a while. They may find it difficult to re-engage with school and educational activities after a hiatus of over six months. For schools, the disruption to teaching and learning may be hard to counter and result in students slipping behind their cohort. Not all students across the country have experienced high-quality education when based at home, largely due to the education continuity strategies and distance learning tools implemented during the lockdown.
As students return to the classroom, or even if they are following a fully online or blended schedule, it will be invaluable for schools to know precisely what progress they have made over the past six months. With international boards like Cambridge International, there is a broad consensus that schools globally need to analyse and evaluate the consequences of school closures. The ability to draw on reliable and stable data about student performance has never been more important than now.
To be able to evaluate the impact of school closures, teachers need to know what level students are starting from. This requires baseline data. Baseline assessment is well established, and generally regarded positively by teachers globally. For schools, baseline assessments can provide a useful and robust way to measure students’ progress once back in the classroom.
When choosing a provider of baseline assessments, schools must consider the reliability and validity of the tests. Cambridge CEM is one of the largest and longest providers of assessment and monitoring systems including baseline, diagnostic and entrance tests. CEM assessments measure students’ starting ability and indicate their potential to achieve across a range of subjects. The baseline and diagnostic assessments adapt to each student’s level, accurately and quickly identifying their abilities in core academic skills. The tests measure learners’ aptitude in core skills and because they are computer-based, results are provided automatically.
Baseline assessments can equip the teachers with actionable data on skills and aptitudes to help identify the learning gaps. Baseline data can take many forms. It might be quantitative (number-based), such as:
- Previous exam results
- Test scores at the start of a topic or course
- Previous attendance data
- How often a student contributes in class, or
- Number of words read out loud in a minute
It might also be qualitative (word-based or visual), such as notes from a lesson observation or examples of student work. With Cambridge CEM, schools and teachers can evaluate impact and progress over time. The data can also support in planning interventions and build personalised developmental pathways to ensure all students are on track.
In the post-COVID era, robust baseline assessments, including those used for diagnostic purposes, can provide a useful picture of what a child knows or can do at a certain point in time, as well as gaps in their learning. The tool will give teachers a deeper understanding of the learning environment experienced by their students over the past few months, and immensely help in improving educational outcomes. This information should be used to inform subsequent teaching and learning activities. Without good baseline assessment, teachers may find it difficult to identify the gaps in teaching and learning and measure progress of students.