The following post is an excerpt from Part II of our case study series with Lithuania’s National Agency for Education (NSA). To learn more about how the NSA began its digital assessment implementation, please click here to read Part I, discussing how Lithuania began their initial stages of digital transformation.
Founded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania, The National Agency for Education (NSA) is responsible for implementing education policies, ensuring the quality of education and monitoring, and researching and implementing educational solutions. With the goal of innovating Lithuania’s education system through the use of technology, NSA began a digital assessment initiative with TAO. By spring 2020, they were aiming to launch their program at scale, and deliver online assessments to roughly 25,000 students concurrently for the first time.
However, with the onset of COVID-19 in 2020 came an unprecedented disruption to global education, leading Lithuania to accelerate the digital transformation that had already begun. Rather than cancel their planned testing campaigns, NSA and other educational policy makers sought a way to work within the constraints of the situation and effectively deliver online assessments remotely to 15,000 students in grades 4 and 8 in the fall of 2021. With the success of this campaign, eTesting has continued through 2021, and has now become a stimulus for improving technology infrastructures available for schools and homes across the country in order to support a continued digital transformation.
An Overview of Lithuania’s National External Assessment System
The diagram below shows an overview of Lithuania’s national external examination system, accounting for the assessment of grades 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12.
In the transition to digital assessment, NSA identified areas of opportunity for eTesting with the self evaluation and certification exams for grades 4, 8 and 10 respectively.
The Path to Digital Transformation
Beginning in 2018, The National Agency for Education (NSA) in Lithuania embarked on a national eTesting initiative to introduce online learning and assessment into their educational model. Seeking approval from educational policymakers, they began this digital transition by first piloting an internal assessment program using TAO’s open source Core platform. Because of TAO’s extensible, open-standards software base, the platform was quickly realized as the ideal assessment solution to support NSA’s digital shift, as scale and functionality could easily be added to support large-scale national student testing. In turn, they decided to invest in a custom TAO Enterprise solution to begin the transformation of their traditional testing model from paper to online-based.
An Unprecedented Interruption
Approaching the spring of 2020, NSA was planning to launch their national testing program at scale, and deliver online assessments to all primary and secondary students in 4th, 8th, and 10th grade concurrently for the first time. However, their plans were overturned when the first wave of COVID-19 hit, causing worldwide institutional shutdowns in March.
Working with government education leaders, NSA had two weeks to switch gears from planning their future campaigns to galvanize a course of action and decide how they would move forward with their testing campaigns. Before the onset of COVID, NSA’s initial idea was to introduce digital testing in a transitional and multi-step way. However, they were now required to quickly accelerate their digital initiative, and start thinking about secure, efficient, and effective ways to introduce remote at-home testing at a national level.
NSA’s goal was to avoid the cancellation of their testing campaigns, and rather conduct their national spring testing campaigns remotely in the fall of 2020, when social distance learning would already be in place.
As they had been working with OAT on organizing and preparing their assets, NSA felt as though they were well positioned to carry on with remote testing.
However, a few new challenges and questions arose:
- How would educators and students respond and organize themselves within a remote testing model?
- How would communications to students change?
- How would they ensure students had the right tools and infrastructure to be able to participate in online testing?
- How would they effectively test high volumes of students of differing abilities remotely, where each household accounts for a unique situation?
Want to keep reading? Download the full case study to find out how NSA redefined their testing programs to equitably support students in a remote context, and worked with TAO to avoid the cancellation of their testing programs.