MeritTrac Services is a pure-play assessment company in the private sector. It provides assessments to educational institutions, government organisations and corporate entities. MeritTrac has played a part in the growth of some of the largest corporations by providing them with assessments that have led to the selection of talent. Gopal Devanahalli, Chief Executive Officer of the company, explains how technology can ease the conduct and evaluation of examinations
Pain points in education system
We have seen question papers of several examinations getting leaked. The list gets bigger every examination season. In one instance, we have even learnt that the question paper was leaked from a police station, where they were stored. A re-examination is not the best of the solutions considering that several thousands of students take the tests. Also, the cost to arrange an examination again is huge. The second problem is the inconsistency in evaluating the answer scripts. This will also affect the student community. Embracing technology can curb malpractices and bring transparency in evaluation.
What can be done
One of the ways to deal is shifting to just-in-time question paper printing (JIT-QP). It is a solution that aims to address vulnerabilities in the traditional model by leveraging technology to curb question paper leaks in high stakes examinations. This is a service that delivers question papers to examination centres half-an-hour to two-hours prior to the examination, depending on the volume of question papers to be printed. The solution uses an OTP (onetime password) that authenticates the question paper and is printed through the high-speed printers. The authorised personnel receives the OTP at the scheduled time for taking printouts. This ensures that there’s no window for question papers to be exchanged or tampered with before it reaches the test takers. However, it is feasible for controlled groups only where the number of students taking the examination is limited. Also, it calls for some infrastructure- a computer, a reliable internet connection and a high speed printer. We have developed this module in 2016 and have been catering to select clients. MeritTrac has recently implemented the JIT-QP service for a vocational training university and the results are positive.
The answer lies in using an on-screen marking solution, wherein answer scripts are scanned and stored on a platform for evaluators to access at a secure centre. This platform will be an automated system that has a database of evaluator and the subjects they can evaluate. Once the evaluator puts in their login details, only those answer scripts come to their screen which they can evaluate. The system has built-in rules to check if the evaluator has corrected every page and question. It can also notify errors like over-marking of an answer. The system can also be programmed to send in those answer scripts to a moderator if they are below 35 marks or above 80 marks. In such cases, the evaluators must justify to the moderator the reasons for marks given. This automated system enhances the accuracy and timeliness of the evaluation system. MeritTrac has implemented TrackMarks for the Orissa Board in their recent school examinations.
Plans for TS
As of now, MeritTrac is looking to expand in the state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as they have infused computerization into their education system. We look forward to reaching out to the government and universities in Telangana, to take this forward. We aim to improve the quality and timeliness of evaluation in the examination system in Telangana schools and government colleges. The first step would be to have pilots rolled out to understand the structure and functioning of schools and college examinations.
Yes, we do understand the challenges – a large number of students appear for the examination. But the systems can be implemented on a pilot basis in controlled groups and then they can be extended in phases.