The national assessment project is a massive exercise which requires a dedicated staff for its successfully implementation. The most important personnel are the Research Coordinator, the Data Manager and the Statistician. Other members of the project team, such as content personnel and technical support, may be employed on temporary basis. The Research Coordinator’s role is to give general direction and leadership throughout the planning and implementation stages of the project. Depending on the targeted population, an Assistant Coordinator may be appointed to assist.
Conducting national assessment leads to a huge amount of data produced, of which some are sensitive requiring careful handling. A number of schools are sampled for piloting, field testing and for the main survey.
Prior to sampling, information about schools is obtained to facilitate representative sampling, such as schools’ geographical location, size, performance in national examinations, teacher qualifications and experience, the number of classes at the target level, and sometimes the number and names of teachers teaching the target classes and their length of teaching them. After sampling schools have to provide information relating to learners’ age, sex, number of learners with disability, and nature of disability.
To ensure quality data collection, the project team has to develop a number of manuals to standardise the conduct of the assessment. Manuals developed include those of sampling, instruments development, administration, data capture, scoring, administration monitoring, data management, among others, depending on the nature of the assessment. All these constitute data which has to be properly managed by the Data Manager to ensure adequacy, accuracy and legitimacy.
The Statistician who is an important member of the team is responsible for developing a national sampling frame, from which to draw a representative sample; technical adequacy of the statistical analysis as well as interpretation of the results.
Item Writers definitely are needed to craft the items for the assessment instruments. Teachers are naturally best placed to play this role especially if drawn from different geographical areas of the country. They have a good command of the curriculum and are in contact with classroom realities hence have realistic expectations of learner achievement standards.
Once items have been developed, they are assembled into a test. Giving the test paper face validity is the job of a Designer or Graphics Officer. They don’t only give a professional look to test instrument but all the documents produced, starting with test design.
The link between the schools involved in the study and the research team is facilitated by School Coordinators. They are extremely important members of the assessment team, who are involved from the beginning to the end. They must not be the teacher of the sampled learners, to avoid conflict of interest.
Instrument Administrators are required to administer assessment instruments to learners. It should be people who understand how their role plays a part in validating the assessment outcomes. Depending on the structure of the national assessment, research assistants may be engaged to serve as instrument administrators of the assessment instruments, after undergoing a rigorous training. Otherwise, it becomes the role of the school coordinators to do that or that of the consultancy, if one has been externally contracted.
Temporary Data capturers can be hired by the Research Coordinator or the externally contracted consultancy. It is important to impress that those hired to capture data should be highly reliable personnel or professional data entry personnel to record or capture accurate data to ensure reliability and validity of the analysis outcomes. Otherwise, careless data recording can undermine the quality of the preceding activities.
Finally, the type of personnel to be engaged are Scorers. Test scorers should have sufficient knowledge of the subject under investigation. In most cases, teachers, if available, are best placed to do this tasks. Preference should be given to School Coordinators as they have better understating of the study. However, the most important criteria for selecting scorers is the subject content and once engaged, they should undergo training before starting the exercise.
Yes, it’s possible!