Aruba: improving testing at a school for secondary education
The Aruban project was divided into four phases:
  1. Analysis: Collection of the tests to be reviewed by SLO subject experts
  2. Professional development course: Organization of a three day training session in Aruba
  3. Design and development: Development by local teams and review of newly designed tests
  4. Additional support: Support was provided on request.

Phase 1: Analysis

Tests were collected for a wide variety of subjects for analysis. Additional information from subject teachers that were not represented by the collected tests was collected through questionnaires.

The collected tests showed that some of the tests were not valid, compared to the international examination demands for certain subjects. Some content was missing, the way of testing was often in the form of pencil and paper tests, and testing was not always based on clear outcome goals.

Based on the analysis, three clusters of school subjects were established: Science, Languages and Humanities.  

Phase 2: Professional development course

An SLO expert was added to each cluster of subjects. Together with each group, they worked towards two forms of output: a newly designed test and an improvement plan with a minimum of three points of action to be realised in one year. The input in the three groups was slightly different, but common points of discussion were: i) a broad framework for curriculum using the curricular spider’s web model; ii) the relation between learning targets and testing; and iii) the concept of a test matrix; validity; reliability; various forms of testing.

Phase 3: design and development

The project was designed based on the following specifications:

  • Subject clusters divided into three groups.
  • Input was provided to the subject clusters for revision of the tests
  • Each subject group discussed and formulated answers to the input given
  • Subject groups adjusted the tests based on the input given.

Phase 4: Support on demand

One of side effects of the project was that the language teachers found they had much more in common than they thought, once they became familiar with the Common European Framework of References. The SLO-experts provided input to the subject groups in a customized way.  The language group was referred to the webpage of the ERK. Others were provided with examples of good practice of valid testing.

Outcomes

The reactions of the participants were very positive. A selection of the comments confirms this: ‘SLO people were clearly people who know what they are talking about, not only experts who have never been in a classroom before’ and ‘I hope we can keep this spirit up and work on our new testing plans’.

The SLO facilitators too were positive after finishing the programme. The latest examination results show an increase of 14%.