1. Educators Pave the Way for Next Generation of LearnersAs educational assessments shift to outcome-based learning, providers must adopt new forms of test delivery to increase their global reach and provide ubiquitous services to a new student population.Executive SummaryEducational assessments continue to evolve at warp speed. In fact, the landscape is transform- ing before our very eyes into a set of digitally guided activities that are increasingly actionable, outcomes-oriented (i.e., results unified with instruction) and able to facilitate students’ con- tinuous learning. Moving forward, educational assessments need to deliver richer and more predictive results that can inform educators of an individual stu- dent’s learning patterns and abilities, as well as growth potential and related attributes. Moreover, when coupled with advanced analytics, these instruments can advance pedagogy and enable student success. As such, the next generation of educational assessments must move from evaluating “how much,” to “how to succeed,” and operate not as a one-time-only event but as a continuous developmental aid in a student’s educational life.1 Parents and educators, however, still favor for- mative over summative assessment. And, many contend that these instruments should include life-skill assessments (i.e., problem-solving, criti-cal thinking, creativity, collaboration, innovation etc.), which will not only broaden the assessment but also provide frequent results for early and continuous corrective action. The ongoing shifts from traditional to future assessment are summa- rized in Figure 1 (page 2). Technology innovations and advancement have introduced the possibilities of alternative assess- ments through better use of information literacy, social media and ubiquitous access. Together, these developments will lead to more quali- tative and less time-consuming assessments. Platforms of the future will need to provide holis- tic assessments while embracing SMAC StackTM technologies, such as cloud computing, to reduce deployment costs and meet the millennial learn- er’s need to take assessments anytime/anywhere. We conclude with a way for educational institu- tions to move forward with continuous data-driven insights to improve learning outcomes. Forces of Change Classrooms today are overwhelmingly digital and virtual. In fact, 89% of high school students now have access to smartphones or devices, and 46% of teachers use videos in the classroom.2 As the • Cognizant 20-20 Insightscognizant 20-20 insights | september 2014
2. c 2 ognizant 20-20 insightsteaching-learning process changes to accommo-date this transformation, the role of assessments isalso evolving. Formal educational assessments areno longer constrained to the measurement oflearning but are used to evaluate improved learn-ingoutcomes.According to a survey by the Northwest EvaluationAssociation (NEWA),3 84% of parents andteachers feel that frequent and formativeassessments help to actively engage and guidethe student through individualized instruction.Providing immediate performance feedback tostudents helps to course-correct, leading to improvedannual outcomes and great-lyreduced stress for bothlearners and administrators.When properly deployed,technology can improveevery step of the assess-ment process, starting withtest development, renderingand scoring, through report-ingand results analysis.Adaptive learning design isnow driven by assessment outcomes; hence, everystep of the assessment value chain (see Figure 2,next page) is undergoing a radical transformation.• Test development: The interface for test con-struction integrates content from multiplesources and knowledge/item banks. Such asystem will allow users to build adaptive testswith not only text but also videos, images,audio and other stimuli to enable testing of keycompetencies.• Test rendering: As learning is now modular,with an anytime-anywhere approach, so istesting. Mobile assessment applications allowformative and personalized testing, to supportmeaningful intervention in the learningprocess. Leading mobile device manufactur-ers are customizing devices to support virtuallearning and testing. Massive open onlinecourses (MOOCs) now can support testing oflarge numbers across the world by utilizingcloud technology. Already, millions of KhanAcademy students, educations and self-learners around the world access this type oflearning environment.4• Scoring: With the use of technology-enhanceditems to test skills and aptitude, scoringis no longer a matter of numbers, gradesor rubrics. Users need increasingly flexiblesystems of scoring to measure and ratequality across multiple parameters, which canthen be analyzed for learning outcomes. Inthe U.S., state adoption of Smarter BalancedAssessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partner-shipfor Assessment of Readiness for Collegeand Careers (PARCC) will require new scoringscales and guidelines and eventually artificialintelligence-based scoring capabilities foropen-ended response types.• Reporting and analysis of outcome: Inaddition to tracking progress, one of thebiggest benefits of frequent formative andTraditional Assessments Future Assessments✘ Occurs at the end of the learning stage(summative)✓ Occurs throughout the learning process(formative)✘ Measures knowledge level ✓ Measures what’s required to be successful✘ Assesses subject-matter knowledge ✓ Measures subject knowledge plus life-skillsadaptability✘ Is based on student output ✓ Is outcome-based for students✘ Does not help in decision-making ✓ Helps in triggering decisions✘ Is an end phenomena ✓ Is a fulfilling journey throughout✘ Can be a negative and stressful experience ✓ Can be encouraging and positiveFigure 1Education Assessment TransitionProviding immediate performance feedback to students helps to course-correct, leading to improved annual outcomes and greatly reduced stress for both learners and administrators.
3. cognizant 20-20 insights 3online assessment systems is to gain insightinto the learning process through collectionand analysis of performance data. Big dataand learning analytics will give institutions thepredictive tools they need to improve learningoutcomes for individual students.Various kinds of data can be reported andanalyzed: > > Who? This includes information about stu-dents, such as demographics, attendancefrequency of logging in, and which parts ofthe assessment or application are being ac-cessed. Rosters, grades, disciplinary recordsand attendance information are all examplesof system-wide data that could be storedabout the users. > > What? What are the concepts and skills be-ingtested? What are the benchmarks fortesting? What are the expected learning out-comes, and the results or scores? > > How? How do students perform on skillsand concepts? How is the performance mea-sured against a benchmark and average?The who, what and how, in our view, needs to becombined with empirical and social data. We callthis the learner’s “Code Halo,”™ which can rede-finethe credentialing landscape through insightsfrom future assessment systems.5Advancing Educational AssessmentsOur Education Practice can help learning institu-tionsbuild and support key assessment platformsand events that involve high student traffic. Ourexpertise spans core assessment processes, frommarking, grading and relat-edknowledge in centeradministration and man-agement, through courses,certifications, enrollmentsand results processes,among other capabilities.Our adaptive approach tofuture-enabling assess-ment systems centers on:• End-to-end transformation: We use best-of-breed and SMAC (social, mobile, analyticsand cloud) technologies to design assessmentsystems of the future. As such, we address theforces of change in assessments by providing: > > Advisory services for leveraging best-in-classtechnologies and processes for enablingtransformation of assessment models: » » Review current state against industrytrends and anticipated future-state capa-bilities.Content UXPlatform/DevicesTestRenderingTestDevelopmentScoringReportingAnalysisof Outcome& ActionStudentAdministratorParent/StakeholderTeacherThe Assessment Value ChainFigure 2Big data and learning analytics will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for individual students.
4. c 4 ognizant 20-20 insights » » Define future-state processes based onthe required capabilities. » » Design the future-state technology plat-form/ architecture. » » Develop the implementation roadmap. > > Implementation of the roadmap to enablefuture-state technology platforms and pro-cesses. Our expertise and success in imple-menting SMAC technologies can help totransform assessment delivery models.• Using analytics in assessments to attainbetter results: Future assessment platformsare heavily dependent on analytics, which helpbuild better formative assessment coursesand provide better insights to academicians.Our Analytics Center of Excellence (CoE) helpsclients develop analytics capabilities and drivea fact-based decision-making process. Addthis to our experience working with leadingassessment providers and enabling education-alinstitutions with a fine-grained understand-ingof the products they use for assessments todeliver better outcomes for students.• Unique delivery models and technicalexpertise: Our global delivery model allowsus to tap best-of-breed expertise wherever itexists. Our structure allows us to integratedomain expertise with multiple technologycenters of excellence to deliver the requiredcapabilities. For example, our combination ofdomain and technology expertise helps clientsunderstand the evolution and adoption ofrelevant industry standards, such as: > > Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)for student data exchange.Transitioning and Transforming the Assessment EcosystemA major organization for higher learning in the UK wanted to update the assessment systems used by itsinternational examinations group and not-for-profit partner organizations. The twin goals were to effi-ciently support an ever-increasing number of students and provide a better user experience.This organization partnered with us to design a multi-directional and multi-dimensional technologytransformation roadmap that included legacy application support services, enabling a new architec-ture for future scalability and proofing, and implementing a digitization strategy. Our accomplishmentsincluded:With the success of the engagement, the organization has retained us to transform its legacy assess-ment platforms to a next-generation assessment system using the SAP enterprise software suite.As part of this initiative, we are providing a business process blueprint for computer-based testing,which requires a radical change due to growing demands from students, teachers and other educationalbodies. The proposed model is in line with the future of educational assessments and includes anytime/anywhere assessments; simulation, interactivity and multimedia-enabled assessments; personalizedand tailor-made assessments; automated exploration of student thinking; more in-depth investigationsand diagnoses of individuals’ misunderstandings and errors; and high-quality, timely feedback to learn-ers to guide further action.• Streamlined processes and support for twice-per-year critical assessment result cycles, aswell as 24x7 services that meet stringentSLAs and KPIs, resulting in increased usersatisfaction.• Support processes for 2.3 million new studentenrollments twice a year.• Effective management for over 100 of theorganization’s core mission-critical assessmentplatforms, up to 80 million tests annually whilecontaining costs.• Future direction, strategies and a roadmapbased on the ongoing changes within theeducation and assessment field.• Consulting services to revamp the assessmentplatform, including an integration strategy andimplementation roadmap.Quick Take
5. cognizant 20-20 insights 5> > Common core standards to ensure all K-12students have the necessary skills andknowledge in English language arts andmathematics. > > SCORM, Tin APIs and IMS standards that arechanging the technical adoption of assess-ment and learning technologies.• Addressing scalability and performanceneeds: Given the increase in student volumeand seasonal spikes, there is a need forassessment platforms to be scalable to meetperformance requirements. Our PerformanceArchitecture Consulting and Engineering(PACE) Practice helps educational institu-tionsto assess and certify the performance ofexisting assessment platforms and understandwhether these systems will scale to meet theirfuture needs. Our architecture assessmentoffering provides a short-term analysis ofexisting assessment platforms and includes areport chronicling their current state, alongwith a multi-phase recommendation for reme-diation.We also provide a flexible capacitymodel that manages peaks and valleys in theneeds of assessments providers to scale upapplication support resources to coincidewith the seasonal cycles of examinations andresults.• Creating mobility-based assessmentplatforms: Our cloud and mobile solutionspractices enable education service providersto create highly interactive multimedia testcontent on scalable cloud technologies andseamlessly render it to a wide variety of mobileplatforms. For mobile devices, we understandthe need to adopt user interface concepts,such as responsive Web design (RWD), toprovide a better user experience. Leveragingour digital design services organization, wehelp service providers build intuitive userEnd-to-End Engineering Services to Sustain,Enhance Educational Assessment SystemA major K-12 publisher in the U.S. needed to transform its strategic assessment platform to the nextlevel of functional and technical maturity while maintaining total cost of ownership (TCO). The companyasked us to deliver a full managed-services offering, with end-to-end product ownership and 24x7 pro-ductionsupport to manage its back-to-school seasonal load of twice the typical number of transactions.The scope became complex due to the simultaneous need to scale the platform to meet common corestandards and state and district regulatory requirements, while promoting data-driven decision-making.As adoption of the managed service increased, the platform was enhanced, using the Agile developmentapproach, to provide:We provisioned a multi-disciplinary, integrated service delivery team, including business consultantsdelivering domain thought leadership; infrastructure and technology architects validating and enhanc-ingthe core technology backbone; centers of excellence for interactive and user experience; and dataanalytics to support dashboards, student profile reports and longitudinal reports.As a result of us managing the entire product management lifecycle and releases, the organizationreduced TCO by 40% within 18 to 24 months. It was also able to seamlessly conduct experimental pilotsto test in-the-classroom formative assessments compliant with PARCC and SBAC.• A multi-tenant architecture hosting 542individual sites.• Coverage for 29 states, including 10,081 schoolsserviced 24X7.• A faster and more engaging user experience.• Full integration with third-party tools, suchas GradeCam and DataScanner to automatescoring for paper/pencil-based assessmentsand to import test data.• Intuitive interfaces for answer sheets, itembanks and summary assessments to generatestandards-aligned assessments.• Improved content publishing tools.Quick Take
6. cognizant 20-20 insights 6Footnotes1 Jannette Elwood and Valentina Klenowski, “Creating Communities of Shared Practice: The Challenges of Assessment Use in Learning and Teaching,” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 27, Issue 3, pp. 243-256, 2002, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/9318/.2 “Speak Up” survey, which polled hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, administrators, parents and community members about technology trends in education, presented at the FETC 2014 Conference. 3 “Assessment Perceptions Survey, 2012,” North West Evaluation Association (NWEA).4 “The Khan Academy Scales and Simplifies with Google App Engine,”Google, https://cloud.google.com/files/KhanAcademy.pdf5 For more on Code Halos, see “Code Rules: A Playbook for Managing at the Crossroads,” Cognizant Technology Solutions, June 2013, http://www.cognizant.com/Futureofwork/Documents/code-rules.pdf, or read our book Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations Are Changing the Rules of Business, written by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, Ben Pring, John Wiley & Sons, April 2014. experience capabilities for their platforms. Inaddition to this, our partnership with nicheeducation technology providers allows for theconceptualization of solution accelerators andframeworks that can help stakeholders acrossthe educational value chain adapt successfullywith new age assessment platforms.Looking ForwardEducational assessment providers must embracethe transformation of the assessment lifecycle,from process design and technology implementa-tion, through ongoing support services. To do this,we offer the following recommendations:• Build platforms that provide holistic assess-ments that meet millennial learners’ needs forlife-skill assessments.• Implement technology that can improve everystep of the assessment process, starting withtest development, rendering and scoring,through reporting and results analysis.• Embrace SMAC Stack technologies, such asthe cloud, to reduce deployment costs, deliverassessments anytime/anywhere on any device,supported by continuous data-driven insightsto improve learning outcomes.• Manage the complexities of multiple technolo-gies by adopting optimized service models forimproved service to an increasingly globalizeduser community.