Welsh Government Online Personalised Assessments

In 2012 the Welsh Government launched an initiative to transform learning and teaching in Wales, bringing practices up to date with the digital world that we now live in. As part of this transformation, online personalised assessments would replace paper-based reading and numeracy tests in all schools in Wales for learners in years 2 to 9.

Method4, along with a consortium of companies, delivered the new online personalised assessments platform. The bilingual, online assessments are adaptive, with question difficulty changing based on a learner’s previous answer, therefore challenging all learners regardless of ability. After completing an assessment, formative feedback is provided to both learners and teachers, enabling focused support from schools. 

Our team developed a bespoke system for teachers to schedule assessments, and learners to initiate them. It also allows the viewing of feedback for learners and summary reports for schools. The system integrates with Hwb, Wales’ digital learning and teaching platform, and Surpass, an online testing platform.

Online Personal Assessments won the “Best Use of Formative Assessment” category at the 2020 e-Assessment Awards and was a runner-up in the “Best Transformational Project” category.  We’re really proud of the part we played in developing the platform and the digital transformation of Welsh education. 

Challenges
  • the system would need to be scalable to cope with tens of thousands of learners logging on to take tests at the same time
  • user data would need to be synchronised into the databases as quickly as possible to enable daily updates from schools’ systems
  • need to be AA compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2
The solution
  • system checks to predict periods of high usage by checking the number of tests booked
  • load balancing to scale up the website when the checks predict high loads
  • using durable functions, we were able to scale the Azure functions to sync data quickly
  • screen reading technology ensured AA compliance
Outcomes and benefits
  • cost effective, the Azure platform can be scaled when required rather than paying for high usage constantly
  • seamless user friendly interface
  • quick delivery of results and reports for users