“Putting PIRLS to Use in Classrooms Across the Globe” – Presentation

On Wednesday, the 25th, the presentation of an e-book was held at NAEC. The book “Putting PIRLS to Use in Classrooms Across the Globe” was prepared based on the materials of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

IEA is an international cooperative of national research institutions, governmental research agencies, scholars, and analysts working to research, understand, and improve education worldwide. PIRLS, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, is one of the core studies of IEA. PIRLS provides internationally comparative data on how well children read and offers educators and policymakers key insights for improving learning and teaching. NAEC has been conducting PIRLS since 2006.

Dr. Gorgodze, along with her colleagues, and the IEA representatives Andrea Netten, Paulína Koršňáková and Laura Cheeseman presented important insights from the book. Primary level teachers attended the presentation which was followed by engaging discussions in two parallel sessions.

In the book, which is dedicated to reading strategies, the example of five countries, including Georgia (Bolnisi Municipality Vill Darbazi Public School & Public School # 2 in Akhalkaki), is given. The book includes the best practices from schools internationally and we are pleased that two schools from Georgia and their practices are among them.

This new resource will help teachers put the latest scientific approaches to reading comprehension into practice. The book is the first in the IEA series which aims to highlight and translate practical information derived from the association’s studies, using the data in a suitable way to give back to teachers.

The book “Putting PIRLS to Use in Classrooms Across the Globe” is available in Georgian.

The First Round of the National School Olympiad

The first round of the National School Olympiad of the 2022-2023 academic year was held electronically from December 9 to December 13.

Any student from grade 7 to grade 12 was eligible to participate remotely anytime during the set dates. The testing time was limited and counted by the special computer program. Tests with different level of difficulty was used in STEM subjects depending on the grades of the participants. However, the same level of difficulty was offered in humanities subjects. The items mostly focused on reasoning and problem solving as well as the general educational background of students.

More than 56 700 students took part in the first round of the of the National School Olympiad including pupils with special educational needs and convicted juveniles.

The second round of the Olympiad will be held in the examination centers and the first 1000 participants with 60% or above in the first round will be eligible. Only the brightest top 50 students in each subject will move to the third round and compete for the national award. Also, the winners of the National School Olympiad will group up for the international Olympiads in the relevant subjects.

The main goal of the Olympiad is to stimulate the learning process and raise the motivation of students.

NAEC is 20 years old! Anniversary conference

On Tuesday, November 22, National Assessment and Examinations Center held a conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of it’s establishment.

The conference was opened by the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli. Long time partners, the representatives of various state agencies, local and international organizations and individuals working in the field of education got together to recall NAEC’s history and hear about the future plans.

The organization, which made a significant contribution to the creation of a fair, transparent assessment system based on meritocratic principles, was founded in Georgia in 2002.

Initially the Center conducted examinations only for university entrants. However, due to hard work and devotion of the team the area of ​​activity expanded soon afterwards.

Currently, NAEC conducts various types of exams, administers international educational research and consults local and foreign partner organizations on assessment and large scale, high stakes examinations.

The Center’s employees, most of whom have been working in the organization since its establishment, recalled the path taken by National Assessment and Examinations Center, the first exam process and the difficulties that accompanied the introduction of the new exam model.

At the conference, the Center also presented a project “Assessment for Development”. The goal of the project is to measure students’ achievements towards the national curriculum and track their progress.

It is worth mentioning that the item development, as well as registration, test delivery and marking is fully electronic. The results are aimed to help students and parents track the progress made during the learning process and get information about the weaknesses and strengths.

The second part of the conference was dedicated to themed discussions and presentations on the following topics:

  • “Assessment for Development”: implementation challenges and results;
  • Challenges related to scientific (STEM) careers and professional choices of 15-year-old students;
  • TIMSS 2019 – analysis of student responses according to content and cognitive areas;
  • Differences and achievement gaps between the students at the primary level in Georgia.

The event concluded with a summary of the discussions.

“Assessment for Development” – Project Workshop

The National Assessment and Examinations Center organized a workshop for school principals and teachers of Vake-Saburtalo and Old Tbilisi districts within the framework of the project “Assessment for Development”.

The event was held at the 55th Public School. Dr. Sophia Gorgodze, Director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center, and Dr. Eka Jeladze, Project Manager, discussed the test results with representatives of the schools involved in the project. The participants of the meeting once again received detailed information about the electronic platform of the report and its specifics.

The last large-scale pilot test for the electronic platform was conducted in more than 500 public schools throughout Georgia within the framework of the following project in May. Both Georgian and mathematics tests were taken by 5,000 to 7,000 students on each day of the testing. Students and parents, as well as teachers and principals, have recently received detailed diagnostic evaluation results. In order to better understand the electronic system and, in particular, the report module, the National Assessment and Examinations Center plans to conduct meetings for other schools involved in the project.

Explore more about “Assessment for Development” project here.

Registration for the National School Olympiad 2021-2022

The registration process for the National School Olympiad 2021-2022 started today and will conclude on the 26th of November 18:00 PM.

The 10-12 grade students who are willing to participate in this year’s Olympiad should contact school administration and register formally according to the specific age group in each subject.

The List of Subjects

Georgian language and literature,
Georgian language for students of non-Georgian language schools,
Mathematics, History, Geography,
Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Foreign language.

The National School Olympiad will be held in three rounds and each round will be based on the National Curriculum. The student who accumulates not less than 60% of the maximum score of the relevant subject test and is among the top 1000 participants of the relevant class and subject ranking list will be eligible to pass to the second round of the National School Olympiad 2021-2022.

The purpose of the Olympiad is to stimulate the learning process and increase the motivation of students. Also, to identify candidates for the teams that will participate in the International Olympiads on behalf of Georgia.

Vocational Testing will be Conducted on the 13th and 14th of September in Tbilisi

After successfully conducting the first round of vocational examinations in the regions the NAEC will host applicants in six fully equipped Exam Centers in Tbilisi.

A total of more than 10 000 applicants have registered for the 2021 vocational testing, more than 5 200 of them will take exams in Tbilisi.

On the 13th of September the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Tamar Kitiashvili and the Director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center Sophia Gorgodze observed the process in one of the examination centers in Tbilisi.

Vocational testing is computer adaptive, therefore, each applicant has an opportunity to demonstrate his/her competence and learn the results once the exam is concluded. Vocational exams are conducted in the following subjects:

  • General Abilities – 50 points (2 hours);
  • Biology – 30 points (1.5 hours);
  • Chemistry – 30 points (1.5 hours).

The minimum competency threshold is 15% of the maximum score in each subject.

An online tryout testing was conducted on the 12th of September. The registered applicants were given an opportunity to learn about the features of the program and sample test assignments remotely/from home.

As in 2020 in 2021 the examination process is carried out in full compliance with the recommendations set by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.

Call for Local IT Consultant to support NAEC

UNDP/Governance Reform Fund announces call for Local IT Consultant to support LEPL the National Assessment and Examinations Centre (NAEC) in ICT Infrastructure and software Architecture. Details can be found here.

Location :Tbilisi, GEORGIA
Application Deadline : here.
Details can be found here.
Additional Category :Democratic Governance and Peacebuilding
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :National Consultant
Languages Required :English  
Expected Duration of Assignment :Up to 60 working days within period of August-December 2021
Details can be found here.

The third Pilot of electronic testing within the project “Assessment for Development” has been completed successfully

On June 1-4 the pilot testing was conducted in about 350 schools across Georgia. The process went smoothly. Dr. Sophia Gorgodze, the director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center observed the testing process at School No. 122, in Tbilisi.

The tryout was conducted in electronic format in Georgian Language and Mathematics and was attended by fourth and sixth grade students. Both Georgian Language and Mathematics tests were performed by about 4500 students on each session of the test.

The purpose of the test is to refine the electronic report and open ended questions scoring modules and the testing format so that it meets the needs of each school in particular. Diagnostic assessment will also help schools plan the academic year accordingly.

In November 2020 more than 1000 students from all over Georgia took part in the second tryout of the system where electronic platform as well as the contents of the assignments were tested .

The National Assessment and Examinations Center started working on the project “Assessment for Development” in 2019. Its purpose is to evaluate the achievements of fourth and sixth graders with the help of an electronic platform at the end of the school year in Georgian language and literature (literacy) and mathematics (quantitative literacy).

The results will help students and parents monitor the progress made during the learning process and get information about the strengths and weaknesses of students. This project will enable schools observe the teaching-learning trends both at the individual class level and at the school level in general. It should be noted that the grade points obtained are not reflected in the student’s annual assessment.

Unified National Examinations 2021

Interview with the Director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center Dr. Sophia Gorgodze

(Adapted from Georgian version)

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, new medical recommendations might be developed for the Unified National Examinations 2021. The NAEC is already collaborating with the relevant institutions to ensure the safety of the examinees and avoid COVID-19 transmission.

As of March 31, more than 38,300 entrants registered for the Unified National Examinations. More than 3,700 students expressed their desire to participate in the Student Grant Competition, more than 12,800 Master’s degree candidates registered for the Master’s Exam. More than 28,700 applicants registered to take the Teacher Competency Test.

“InterpressNews” talked to Dr. Sophia Gorgodze, the director of the National Assessment and Examinations Center to find out whether the entrants infected with Covid-19 will take exams at home or if the Center plans to conduct a new exams for such applicants. This and other interesting exam updates were highlighted during the interview.

Last year, the National Assessment and Examinations Center had to adapt examination procedures for an infected applicant in Force Majeure. What is planned in this direction this year? Are you going to arrange special spaces for Covid-19 infected applicants?

I do believe, last years’ experience will greatly help us in organizing and conducting examinations 2021. Last year we had to work under completely different circumstances, everything was new, but actually, the scheme worked well. Based on the existing practice, we consider ourselves more prepared this year. We had initial communication with health professionals. They assume that the recommendations made last year are relevant, but of course there’s still a chance that they will be revised and amended depending on the epid-situation we will have 2 weeks before the exams. I do not think radical changes will be necessary to be made, however, it is too early to talk about it now, we continue to keep track of the situation. The week prior to examinations 2021 applicants will be fully informed about the procedures.

Which part of the recommendations might be revised? Do you think that due to the number of infected people, the exam dates might be questioned and this process might be postponed?

One thing that can be specified is how infected entrants should be managed and whether they can take exams at specially designed spaces. By the time the exams approach, we will know approximately how many infected applicants we might have and as a result of these statistics, the Ministry of Health will give us final recommendations. Last year, when only two entrants were infected, we were directly involved in organizing the testing for that entrant. The examination was conducted at the hospital and  it required huge effort and resources. But it was possible at that moment. However, if there will be 10-20 and 30 applicants, they should be treated differently. Now we cannot say anything in particular, it depends on the statistics, how many infected entrants we will have, relevant steps will be taken in accordance with the situation.

Do you consider planning resits for Covid-19 infected applicants?

Resits might be challenging due to several issues. One is that exams are quite a long process, lasting almost a month. It is also against the principle of such high-stakes centralized exam where you have several test versions, when you have to equate the different versions,  and publish all used tests after the exams, . Going through this whole process again after one or two months might be tricky. On the one hand  versions of assessment instruments cannot be completely different from each other. Giving a similar version to these entrants after two months following publishing the tests will be unfair to students who took the exam earlier and felt less prepared. In addition, university enrollments in such a case will not take place in August. Everything will be delayed and the academic year might not start on time either.

How about allocating specially equipped spaces to infected entrants?

We have had similar spaces reserved for entrants with high temperature and, of course, there is a chance that we will allocate them now for Covid-19 infected entrants as well. However, I cannot tell you anything in advance. If public healthcare professionals say it is risky, off course we cannot do it. If we are told that this is possible, we will be ready.

Does the restriction on the number of entrants in the examination space remain the same regarding no more than 10 entrants in one space?

This regulation remains the same. Two-meter distance between the desks also applies to this year’s exams.

The Center conducted the exam in the hospital last year, is it expected that the infected entrants might take exams remotely from homes and proctored through the video surveillance system? Are you considering conducting examinations at any alternative space?

Infected applicants will not take exams remotely from homes, however various options are being discussed and we’ll inform the public about the latest updates.

According to the last year’s regulations if the temperature reached 30 degrees inside, it was allowed to  turn on the air conditioning, therefore the applicants were bound to put on face masks which they had removed while writing. Will this rule still be in force?

Yes, to this point this rule remains the same. We had transparent plastic covers in front of each desk which allowed us to take such decision.

Do you plan to increase or reduce the number of exam centers?

The number of exam centers will be known after the 15th of April as soon as the registration process is concluded. In case of necessity we’ll provide additional exam centers, however, the same 24 exam centers might be enough.

Last year, specialists recommended to use open spaces (stadiums, open fields) and even shifting an exam schedule from mornings to evenings. In their point of view, this would cause fewer threats. Do you consider anything like this?

This case-scenario is not considered due to the fact that we conduct exams in summer, we do not know what the weather will be like and conducting it in the open space will cause many difficulties. Sitting an exam at the stadium in the heat of July, I think, is unrealistic.

How will the process be carried out for convicted and accused applicants?

So far, we only have some preliminary data according to which 17 convicts are going to take the exams. However, there might be cases when an applicant got in trouble after the registration was concluded. Therefore, we actively cooperate with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and the Penitentiary Service and do try to support the applicants’ endeavors to take Unified National Examinations. If it is a special case and the Penitentiary Service deems that the convict or accused should not be allowed to take the test, we cannot intervene. Otherwise, we have an isolated entrance for such applicants, special rooms are allocated for them to sit an exam.

Let me ask you about the minimum threshold for the exam. Will the threshold be increased or decreased for any subject?

The percentage of the test threshold of any subject has not changed this year. In mathematics and foreign languages this is more than 20% of the maximum points, in General Abilities  Test- more than 30% and  in all other subjects more than 25% of the maximum score points.

As for the content of the tests, what kind of changes are planned? What issues, topics have been added or subtracted from the tests?

There have been no amendments in the examination programs this year as significant changes would have caused additional stress for applicants during the pandemic. We only reduced exam duration where it was possible. This applies to mathematics, physics and chemistry, time limit for these subjects has been reduced by half an hour. The decision was made after carefully analyzing the content and the duration of each test.

You mentioned that the exam duration has been decreased, have the number of items also been deducted?

The number of test assignments have also been reduced, it would have been unfair to leave the same number of questions and reduce the exam time. The difficulty of the test has not changed, but due to the fact that the number of assignments has been reduced and the entrant will spend less time, they will be less tired and this will also make the writing process easier.

The answer sheets were kept in quarantine for several days last year. You claimed that “paper might be one of the transmitters of the virus.” Are you planning to switch to e-assessment in general?

Currently we have a blended format, which means that the entrant sees the task on the computer screen and marks the answer on the answer sheet. We obviously want to switch to a fully electronic system and it will be a progressive step. We are working on this, but within the framework of another project “Assessment for Development” – we are preparing 4th and 6th grade assessments at this stage and we are in a pilot stage. We want to introduce a fully electronic system here. Let’s see how it works and if it turns out to work well, then maybe we should start thinking about introducing this format in case of other exams as well. 4th and 6th grade assessments will be diagnostic . We are still working on this program and try out has been conducted in hundreds of schools. This project aims to provide more information to the teacher, parent and student about where they are at that stage.

When is it planned to conduct the Unified National Examinations with a fully electronic system? Will this happen by 2024?

I cannot tell you the exact date of the fully electronic Unified National Examinations, as for the 4th, 6th grade assessments, it will take place as soon as we assume that this system has successfully been piloted and we are ready to implement nationwide. This issue also depends on the ICT infrustructure in schools. In case of centralized assessment, all schools should have a certain number of computers in order to engage in similar electronic assessments. Anyway, we will at least start with the schools that have the required capacity.

I would like to ask you about the quality of education, what kind of challenges did distance learning reveal?

In general, everyone, including international organizations like UNICEF agrees upon the fact that the pandemic was a challenge for the world education system. Georgia was also confronted with new educational reality of Covid-19. However, taking into consideration the available resources, I think our country has coped well so far. As for the context of the exams there were challenges worldwide – even England, which has a better functioning education system, cancelled the centralized exam last year; Rather they chose to use a specific algorithm, the students’ scores were calculated and enrolled in such a way that various publications, including the BBC, estimated that England had an exam fiasco. We did a better job than we thought we would. We conducted the exams centrally in the examination centers and enrolled the entrants successfully without spreading the infection.

Did you consider conducting Unified National Examinations in a different format last year?

The only other format that could have been possible was to run the process remotely. For example, if entrants took the test at home and we had a good means of monitoring. However, if this could be the solution, other leading European countries would also use this method. We didn’t have a tested assessment system with good proctoring capabilities. A similar monitoring technology (proctoring) is currently being developed by leading technology companies, which needs to be well piloted and has not yet been used widely. We did not have this system and even if we bought one, we could not be sure that everything would go smoothly and exams would be fair.

The Ministry of Education and Science did not rule out that from 2023-24 the national exams would be abolished and one combined exam would be held. Have you started working in this direction?

No such thing is being discussed at this stage, although the Ministry considers that it is possible to make this model of higher education entry more diverse. Enrollment in higher education institutions can happen not only through the scores of the Unified National Examinations, but also using additional criteria. This type of discussion is ongoing, though it is at an early stage and nothing is clear yet.

Don’t you think that including other criteria might entail some risks of corruption?

Such changes might entail the risks of corruption, which is why for more than 15 years we have, in fact, an unchanged, strictly centralized examination system, where only way to be enrolled at  higher education institution is to pass the Unified National Examinations successfully. However, we should think about making the system more flexible, more diversified, decentralized, and add other components to enrollment process. When it will start and whether we are ready it is a matter of debate. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that the new examination system has at least the same support from the public as the existing system, where there are no question marks in terms of fairness of the process.

As for conducting a single combined test, even if this happens, it will not significantly improve the system. Again, we will have a strictly centralized and single criterion-based approach. At the same time on that one exam a student may get sick, get a low score, when with the result of three exams he has more chances to demonstrate his abilities and get into university. So, one combined test can be even worse if no other component of the enrollment is added. In the future, we should think about system development, so that we also  consider entrants needs and introduce needs-based funding for example, as is the case in many developed countries.

Since we are talking about assessing the student’s level of achievement, do Georgian schools equip students with proper knowledge and skills? What subjects are difficult for students nowadays? In what subject exams were the worst and the best results? Has the situation changed for the better or has the situation worsened over the years?

We participate in multiple international assessments, for example PIRLS, which is a literacy study that tests the knowledge and skills of 4th graders, PISA, which tests the skills of 15 year olds in literacy mathematics and science. We also have national assessments. The results of these studies are not really encouraging, although we have small shifts in specific directions. TIMSS 2019 study gave us the basis for optimism, where 4th graders significantly improved their achievement in mathematics, and this improvement happened due to the students living in rural areas. With this study, Georgia is among the three countries that have significantly improved their results. The subject of a separate study is what this improvement might be related to. As for other areas, for example, the PISA 2018 – this research cycle focused on literacy. Unfortunately, we did not have a good result. If the student has difficulty with reading comprehension, they will face problems in all other subjects. Also, there are still challenges in the sciences and mathematics – there is work to be done in this direction. One of the subjects that children find difficult when observing national exam results is physics. The same applies to teachers’ exam outcomes.

According to the reform carried out by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, part of the retired teachers has left schools and received compensation in exchange for leaving the profession. How many teachers have left the profession in total and what has this process shown? Did system  improve and did this  affect the quality of learning?

As I remember, about 8,000 teachers left the profession, which was a good step towards improving the system. The average age of teachers in Georgia was very high compared to other countries, which is a problem in itself. During this period, such an initiative was timely. The increased interest of those entering the profession is probably due to this fact. As I mentioned, this year more than 28,700 people are registered in total, both those who want to enter the profession and practicing teachers. Out of this number, approximately 8,700 are practicing teachers, and more than 1,800 special educators who will take this exam for the first time this year and will work with students with special needs. More than 18,000 people are new candidates interested in teaching. We have never had so many new candidates registered for a qualifying exam, which can be related to many factors, and I think one of them is this reform initiative and  popularization of teachers’ profession.

What is the failure rate for those entering the profession?

The failure rate is not low for those who want to teach. It is higher in the elementary grades and also in the direction of sports, where, unfortunately, many have failed compared to other subjects. They had to accumulate 61% of the maximum points. They seem to think that teaching sports/physical education is the easiest and come unprepared, or do not have enough resources to prepare.

Source: InterpresNews

The Third Round of the National School Olympiad has started

The third round of the National School Olympiad started on April 9 with math and French language and will conclude on April 12 with biology. The testing is conducted in compliance with all the regulations developed by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.

More than 600 students take part in the final third round. Each of them has gained at least 50% of the maximum score of the relevant subject test and has been ranked among the top fifty participants in the respective class and subject ranking list.

This year, the first round of the Olympiad, in which more than 30,700 students expressed their desire to participate, was held electronically in a different format, due to the pandemic. Students were able to participate remotely, via the Internet. Unlike the first round, the second round of the Olympiad was held in schools and was attended by more than 6,000 students.

The winner of the National School Olympiad for the 2020-2021 academic year will become the student who accumulates 60% of the maximum score of the relevant subject test and will be among the top ten participants in the relevant class and subject ranking list.

All three rounds of the Olympiad are based on the national curriculum. The aim of the Olympiad is to stimulate the learning process and increase the motivation of students. Also, identifying candidates for the teams that will participate in the International Olympiads on behalf of Georgia.