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What Made It Possible for Georgia? — Examinations 2020 During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While many countries made a major decision to postpone or cancel high stakes examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia decided to take the precautionary measures and run the exams.  

The examination process in Georgia continued for nearly the entire month. During this period the Unified National Examinations, the Students’ Grant Competition, the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations, and the Teacher Certification Examinations were held. The number of examination centers had been increased to follow the safety recommendations and place no more than 10 applicants in an examination room. This period has been a great challenge for the National Assessment and Examinations Center first, because of the responsibility to ensure the safety of approximately 70 000 applicants overall, and second, because of the responsibility to ensure the social health wouldn’t worsen.

The commission comprised of corresponding state authorities and supervised by the Prime Minister adopted the recommendations To prevent the spread of COVID-19, maximize the health protection of examinees, and simultaneously ensure high-quality management of an examination process.

Although the epidemic situation had a great impact on the examination process, the examination process didn’t impact the epidemic situation. There has been a case when an applicant who took the Unified National Examination on July 7 tested positive for the coronavirus. All preventive measures had been taken as fast as possible, the applicant was placed in quarantine and took the rest of the exams in line with the rules there. All individuals who took the exam with the applicant or had contact with her had been identified and taken under the supervision of doctors. NAEC strongly believes that the spread of disease was avoided because the safety recommendations had been followed urgently and strictly during the whole examination process as well as in this particular case.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, the general director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health summed the process up. According to him, even though national exams represented large social gatherings, the epidemic situation in a country hasn’t worsened.

“I’d like to inform you that our country successfully passed this exam. The spread of infection hasn’t occurred” — said Gamkrelidze.

The fact that the month-long examination process with large social gatherings ended without major complication and the pandemic outbreak shows that the issued safety recommendations were adequate and absolutely necessary to deliver the result Georgia now has. It also shows that everyone responsible for the administration of the exams worked hard, were devoted, and strictly followed the safety recommendations.

Safety Protocol for Conducting Examinations During COVID-19

Recommendations for the National Assessment and Examinations Center to Safely Organize the Examinations 2020 During the New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19)

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, maximize the health protection of examinees and simultaneously ensure high-quality management of an examination process, the commission comprised of corresponding state authorities and supervised by the Prime Minister has been created.  As a result of a coordinated work of the commission members, the rules concerning the safe administration of the Unified National Examinations, the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations, the Teacher Certification Examinations, and the Students’ Grant Competition have been adopted.

According to the recommendations of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), examinees and observers are allowed to occupy only 50% of the area in each examination sector. The examination desks’ front sides should be equipped with transparent barriers/shields; the examination desks should be placed at least 2 meters apart from each other and the distance between the examination desks in each line should be at least 1 meter.

Examination desk shields, thermal screening, proper distancing, and strict observance of every recommendation concerning the prevention of the spread of  COVID-19 made it possible to allow examinees to write the exam without wearing a face mask once they take their seats at their respective examination desks.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), air conditioners have been allowed alongside the natural ventilation (open window). If the room temperature reaches or exceeds 30 Celsius, air conditioning can be turned on. However, in such cases, everyone in the examination room must wear a face mask.

When air conditioning is allowed, the rules listed below must be followed:

  1. Physical distancing;
  2. The Mandatory rule regarding hand hygiene;
  3. Respiratory hygiene  i.e. cough etiquette;
  4. Mandatory rule to wear a face mask;
  5. The airflow coming out of the conditioners should not be directed at the people in the examination room; 
  6. The windows of the examination room must be open at all times. It is mandatory  no matter the air conditioners are turned on or off because the risk of spreading the virus is high in the closed space;
  7. The re-circulation of the air is prohibited.

Under instructions issued by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), face masks must be worn by the examinees in the examination center during the situations specified below (exceptions are the examinees whose body temperature is 37 °C or higher and/or the examinees with any other respiratory symptoms. These examinees must wear face masks at all times during their presence at the examination center):

  1. Before taking their seats at the examination desks;
  2. While leaving the examination sector;
  3. While communicating with others;
  4. While the air conditioner is turned on.

The examination personnel must wear face masks at all times. The personnel responsible for thermal screening must also wear transparent face shields and observe strict hygiene rules.

All medical facilities in the examination centers are equipped with first aid kits. The emergency vehicles, ambulance, and police patrol cars are mobilized on the premises.

For a more detailed review of the recommendations noted above, you can visit the official website of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.

Examinations 2020: Georgian Experience

The examination process in 2020 has become more challenging than ever before due to the pandemic. To ensure the safety of the examinees, implement public health measures and avoid COVID-19 transmission, recommendations related to the new coronavirus had been adopted. The recommendations were adopted by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. These recommendations were strictly followed by the National Assessment and Examinations Center.

The Unified National Examinations

The Unified National Examinations 2020 started on July 6th and ended on July 25th. It was administered in 24 examination centers established all over Georgia: Tbilisi, Batumi, Poti, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Kutaisi, Akhaltsikhe, Gori, Rustavi, Telavi, and Khulo. The number of applicants for the United National Examinations was more than 39 300 and approximately 94% of the applicants took the Unified National Examinations.

The results have already been published and the appeal process has also been finished. After the publication of the appeal results, the entrants were able to make changes in the list of programs of their choice depending on the university ratings and according to their exam scores.

The enrollments and information about the government grants were announced on August 31. 29 614 entrants will continue studying at higher education institutions and almost 6 550 of them will receive the government grant. More than 1 000 applicants will receive 100% funding, almost 1 500 applicants will receive 70% funding, and more than 4 000 applicants will receive 50% funding. The entrants should register in the higher education institutions to continue studying.

The Students’ Grant Competition

The number of applicants registered for the Student Grant Competition was more than 3 600 and their 78% participated in the Student Grant Competition. The competition was held on July 25th. The results were announced in the first half of August.

If the student doesn’t improve their grant they still maintain their current funding and have a right to register for the following years’ competition.

The Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations

The Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations started on August 1st and finished on August 4th. More than 12,600 applicants were registered and 87% of the applicants took the exam.

After passing the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations, applicants take a specialty exam directly in their respective higher education institutions.

Unlike previous years, this year entrants for the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations took only one type of test, this completely eliminates the problems associated with the choice of educational programs and mobility.

The results have already been announced and the appeal process continues from august 27 to September 2.

The Teacher Certification Examinations

The Teacher certification examinations for the beginning teachers started on July 22nd and finished on July 30. Up to 12 000 applicants were registered for the subject examinations this year and 88% participated in the exam. The results have already been announced and the appeal process has been finished as well.

The examination centers were located in the following cities: Batumi, Poti, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Kutaisi, Akhaltsikhe, Gori, Tbilisi, Rustavi, and Telavi.

According to the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, the teacher certification examinations for the practicing teachers has been postponed and will be conducted in autumn by the National Assessment and Examinations Center.

The pandemic situation in the country hasn’t worsened due to the examinations 2020.

Study in Georgia

Registration of those who want to Continue to Study in Georgia from higher educational institutions of foreign countries will start on August 1, 10:00 and will continue until August 20, 18:00

Citizens of Georgia who have studied / are studying and have received credits / qualifications in a higher education institution recognized in accordance with the law in a foreign country (they were abroad for a period of study, not less than 75 days during the semester) will be able to take the exam.

The basis for taking the exam is a person’s application about taking the exam. The application is filled out in the building of the National Assessment and Examinations Center (Address: Tbilisi, E. Mindeli Street N9), and in the regions – in the Educational resource centers. of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture And Sport of Georgia

Registration details Link in Georgian.

Study in Georgia

Studying in Georgia is an important thing to consider for international student desiring to pursue a Quality Education in any chosen field of academic study. Georgia is famous having rich and diverse culture. Tourists from all over the world come to visit the country around the year. Georgians are free-spirited people.

Georgia is one of the best countries to study. They have wonderful universities in Georgia that are recognized World-wide. The Standard of Education in Georgia is as high as studying in the United States, Canada, UK or other European countries.

If you are interested visit HOW TO APPLY resource by MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE OF GEORGIA

NAEC in 3rd FLIP+ annual online event, 11th – 12th June 2020 (Link)

About FLIP+ e-assessment community

The FLIP+ e-assessment community was officially launched as a non-profit association in June 2019.

It grew from first conversations dating back to January 2017 between the official education assessment bodies from four countries (France-Luxembourg-Italy-Portugal: hence the acronym) who were seeking solutions to common challenges in e-assessment. The assessment center (CAEd) from Brazil joined this initial group in 2018, and ever since several other institutions and bodies from many countries have expressed their interest in the initiative. Georgia Joined in 2019.

NAEC became the member of international FLIP+ E-assessment Community in 2019 to discuss and share challenges and success stories of e-assessment project. As a community member, NAEC can share the experiences in e-assessment content development, as well as in TAO open source development by composing extensions for the platform (e.g. portable computer interaction for the development of different interactive technology-enhanced items, reporting features for the platform, offline version for test delivery and etc.). NAEC can work on certain extensions for the platform in cooperation with other countries, thus sharing the budget for the development, or exchange already developed extensions free of charge.

3rd FLIP+ annual online event, 11th – 12th June 2020 (Link)

During its third international FLIP+ online event , the FLIP+ association gathered over 100 participants from 50 different institutions working in the field of educational assessment. Participants joined in from 24 countries as well as from IEA and OECD.

Under the FLIP+ motto of “sharing”, participants were able to learn about the e-assessment experiences of countries like Denmark, Georgia, Lithuania and Norway and gain insights about developments in six other FLIP+ member institutions. Work undertaken this year related to the FLIP+ Item Library was also presented. It should be recalled that the first ideas to set up the item library were initially discussed during the 2019 annual event in Rome. A year later, participants greatly welcomed the live demo of the initial prototype of the Item Library platform which showed where the items would be stored, how they could be accessed, reviewed, worked upon and shared.

Publication about NAEC presentation on the 3rd FLIP+ annual online event, 11th – 12th June 2020 (Link)

Georgia: Assessment for Development (Link)

MOU between NAEC and SEC

The National Assessment and Examinations Center of Georgia (NAEC) signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the State Examination Center of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SEC)

On 20 May 2020, Sophia Gorgodze –Director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center of Georgia (NAEC), Maleyka Abbaszade – Chairperson of SEC’s Board of Directors, as well as the senior executives of both parties met in a video format.

During the meeting, the parties expressed satisfaction with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), discussed the progress of the first stage of this partnership in the following areas and shared mutual expectations of the next stage, as outlined in the MoU:

  1. SEC’s support on the development of an item bank of the Teachers Certification Exams for the Azerbaijani language and literature teachers working in Georgian secondary schools with Azerbaijani as the language of instruction;
  2. Review of the SEC’s Georgian language test items for school-leaving exams (grade 9 and 11) by the NAEC;

It should be noted that the assessment instrument constructed with the SEC’s support on Teachers Certification Exams for the Azerbaijani language and literature teachers working in Georgian secondary schools with Azerbaijani as the language of instruction will be used for differentiating and rewarding performance as a part of the Azerbaijani language and literature teachers’ certification.

The following projects are expected in the next phase of this mutual cooperation:

Organization of online item development training by the NAEC aimed to improve the Georgian language assessment by Georgian language teachers working in the secondary schools of Azerbaijan.

Provision of online learning and teaching resources as well as practice tests by the SEC for the Azerbaijani language and literature teachers working in Georgian secondary schools with Azerbaijani as the language of instruction;
Exchange of used exam papers available in English and Russian on different subject areas;

Sharing best practices between SEC and NAEC through regular video-conferences. Parties also discussed the characteristics of exams held during the pandemic and shared country specific challenges in test administration and contextualized solutions.

Source:

(Publication in Georgian)
(Publication in Azerbaijan and English Languages)

Project : Assessment for Development

The Government of Georgia in June 2019 has signed Loan Agreement for financing the implementation of Innovation, Inclusion and Quality Project (I2Q Project) with the World Bank[1]. The Project development objectives are to (i) expand access to preschool education; and (ii) improve the quality of education and the learning environments.

Project – Assessment for the Development is under I2Q project component 2, Subcomponent 2.4 – Development of a National Assessment Framework. It aims to implement census-based e-assessment (fully online mode) for the public schools of Georgia. The goal of assessment is to measure students’ achievements towards the national curriculum and track their progress. About 150 000 students of 4th, 6th and 10th grades will be assessed in literacy and numeracy every year. Students, their teachers, parents, corresponding schools and educational authorities will receive the automated e-reports on the assessment results, in order to support data-driven decision-making processes on individual, classroom, school and national level.

The initial phase of the project has already started in 2019 and draft framework for the assessment has been elaborated, as well as e-tests in literacy and numeracy for 4th and 6th grades. Two pilot phases have been planned for 2020 in order to try-out the content of the tests, to trial the platform and develop business processes for the e-assessment.

NAEC already has hired the staff, exclusively for the Assessment for Development project: project manager, project assistant, TAO administrators, system administrator, developer, literacy and numeracy experts.

The first pilot took place in February 2020. 6 000 students from 59 schools participated in the pilot in order to try-out the items and online delivery platform.

The items were created and assembled in the tests:

  1. 5 tests for the numeracy in 6th grade. Each test comprised 20 items. The items were developed based on the national curriculum of the 6th grade math;
  2. 4 tests were developed for the 4th grade numeracy, with 25 items each. The items were developed based on the national curriculum of the 4th grade math.
  3. 10 texts, with 14 items in each, were developed to test literacy skills in the 4th grade.
  4. 10 texts were developed to assess 6th grade literacy skills, each text included 8-9 items to assess reading and writing skills for the 6th grade, as defined by the national curriculum of Georgian language and literature.

Students’ responses were analyzed and the items were edited based on the psychometric analysis. The set of the tests were assembled for the second phase of the pilot.

Project team analyzed existing test authoring and delivery platforms and selected OAT (Open Assessment Technologies) TAOTesting open Source eassesement software (TAO). TAO platform enables to create technology-enhanced items (TEIs) and ensures complete content interoperability. It offers: item authoring, test creation, scheduling and delivering tests online on a nation-wide scale, managing test-takers and user access, collecting and saving students responses, automatically grading candidates closed-question responses and exporting the data for further use.

There are several arguments why TAO Testing eassessment platform was chosen:

  1. Community edition it is free Open source and can be installed and used without any charges;
  2. It is the only computer-based assessment software built as an open source and with open standards (IMS Global learning Consortium QTI and LMI Open Standarts).
  3. It gives opportunity to customize and develop the soft in line with the project needs and assessment objectives;
  4. TAO is built using Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) standards. QTI represents assessment content and results in such a format that can be easily exchanged between authoring and delivery systems, repositories or learning management systems. It enables to migrate the data from TAO to any other platform as needed by the project;
  5. TAO platform is already in use by the ministries of education in different countries.
OAT TAO

Community edition of TAO platform is installed on the local Education Management Information System (EMIS) servers. EMIS and NAEC provide the hosting and delivery services for the platform.

NAEC became the member of international FLIP+ E-assessment Community in 2019 to discuss and share challenges and success stories of e-assessment project. As a community member, NAEC can share the experiences in e-assessment content development, as well as in TAO open source development by composing extensions for the platform (e.g. portable computer interaction for the development of different interactive technology-enhanced items, reporting features for the platform, offline version for test delivery and etc.). NAEC can work on certain extensions for the platform in cooperation with other countries, thus sharing the budget for the development, or exchange already developed extensions free of charge.

Version 1.0 of e-reporting and e-scoring modules have been developed and integrated with TAOtesting platform. E-reporting module generates the reports for student, teacher and school based on the data collected from the student responses. E-scoring module enables the human scorer to score the student responses collected from TAO testing platform. Both modules are ready for the trial in the 2nd pilot of the project.

The second pilot is planned in autumn 2020, involving 300 public schools of Georgia. It aims to try-out the tests (instead of trying-out the items in the first pilot), to test human scoring and e-reporting system and its compliance with Tao platform.

[1] (Link)