We started a series of discussions with schools using Open Door’s Online Assessments to improve the efficiency of online teaching. In our talk with Ms. Asha Alexander, Principal, The Kindergarten Starters, Dubai, she describes how her school has made a smooth transition from classroom teaching to online teaching. She also talks about the importance of assessments in COVID-19 times. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with her:
Open Door: What are the major challenges that you faced while shifting your classes online?
Ms. Asha Alexander: Since our school had already embarked on the e-learning and blended learning journey for the past 9 years and are a Microsoft Showcase School for the past 4 years, our teachers were well equipped with the required technology skills to seamlessly transition into Remote Learning.
Open Door: Educationists are aware about the importance of assessments in usual times. How has COVID-19 increased the importance of assessments?
Ms. Asha Alexander: During remote learning sessions, we usually assign synchronous and asynchronous sessions. It is more important now as students are learning distantly and with parental support. It is essential to track if they have understood the concepts and are able to apply them independently. Hence it is important to assess the learning regularly through different online tools to clarify student misconceptions. We rely on multiple sources and strategies to collate the data about our students’ attainment and progress in lessons and over time. For example: we assess students formatively through classroom discussions, post-tests, mini plenaries, assignments- both online and in the notebook and written work in the notebook. These are used formatively to clarify misconceptions. We use summative assessments such as Open Door mastery assessments.
Open Door: Is there any feedback from either parents or teachers or students about Open Door’s online assessment? Would you like to share it with us?
Ms. Asha Alexander: Students have the option to select multiple answers for every question though there is only one correct answer. For primary students it would be good if you could adjust the system to accept only one answer to avoid losing marks due to marking of multiple answers inadvertently. The questions are critical thinking questions and cover almost all sub-objectives of the lesson.
Open Door: How would you rate the support provided by our Operation team when you started taking Open Door’s assessments?
Ms. Asha Alexander: Excellent support. The team was available online the whole day during the test days and resolved most of the issues immediately. Open Door team has done an excellent job in assigning online assessments. The support was excellent throughout the process starting from the setting of learning and relearning papers to the day of administration and even after that as well.
Open Door: What has been the most important benefit to you from Open Door’s online assessments?
Ms. Asha Alexander: Open Door’s online assessments has enabled the teachers to view the report of the students once the students submit their test. Instant results with detailed analysis has helped us in making data-driven decisions. The framework of questions by the Open Door team shows an in-depth research into the concepts. This helps the teachers to understand the misconceptions pertaining to the concepts taught and assessed, identify weak concepts and bridge learning gaps. Our teachers make use of the error analysis data provided, analyse the results of individual students, have data conversations to inform future planning and modify teaching strategies to suit the needs of all learners. Teachers also identify the ‘at risk’ students and facilitate Assertive Mentoring for small groups of students. Students who do exceptionally well are further challenged with extension tasks and enhanced mentoring.
Would you like to know how Open Door’s Assessments can help your school?
Evidence based Improvement
The above data shows how well KGS, Dubai has made use of Open Door’s assessments in the first cycle of academic year 2020-21. In Open Door’s first test, the average score across the classes was 67%. Students had understood the topic but still had some misconceptions. At this learning stage, if teachers had moved on to the next topic, the majority of the students would not be able to develop a deeper understanding.
Teachers took corrective measures before moving to the next topic. The remediation sessions helped students to self-reflect and clear their misconceptions. As can be seen in the above data, the average across the classes increased to 79% in the Open Door’s second test. While comparing the data of both the tests, we can see an improvement of 18% in the average score. Open Door’s second test kept both the teachers and students naturally motivated to show an improvement in learning. It gives us immense satisfaction to see the academic team of KGS, Dubai, making the most out of Open Door’s assessments. You can read about Open Door's Thinking Assessments program here.
About The KGS Dubai Principal
Ms. Asha Alexander is an exceptional leader with sincere dedication to the benefits of the children. She always goes out of her way to ensure quality education for the students. As a principal, she is always accessible to students, parents, and teachers. An innovative leader and problem solver, Ms. Asha Alexander has been guiding both students and parents to make a smooth transition from classroom learning to remote learning. Open Door is thankful to Ms. Asha Alexander for choosing us and participating in our case study.
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