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North Shore Academy has switched to online testing, using Magellan with Alfiesoft, to achieve the following results:

– a saving of  £1,1oo a year in printing costs;

– saving approximately 35 minutes of learning time for each assessment.

How does it work? Chris Corcoran, Leader in Learning – Maths and Numeracy, describes how in this blog post:

“At North Shore Academy, we have moved away from paper based testing with KS3 classes. We are now working in partnership with Alfiesoft (www.alfiecloud.com) to deliver online versions of the old assessments we used to use for our KS3 pupils.

“Our assessment policy is, like in most schools across the country, very rigid. We assess all pupils using nationally standardised assessments (currently the old KS3 SATs papers) in the penultimate week of every half term. Prior to introducing Alfiesoft this would cost us dearly, both in terms of staff’s time and financially. The introduction of online testing has significantly improved both situations.”

Cost saving through using online portal

“Firstly, speaking in money terms, we were spending over £1,500 on printing costs, for papers which couldn’t be re-used and in some situations were only half completed anyway. The papers would be bulky and hard to store, both before and after the assessment took place, and (slightly embarrassingly for a maths department) we could never seem to order the correct number of each paper for our students. Moving to the online platform has completely removed all of this cost and hassle. We now pay £400 for the year, saving us over £1,100 on printing costs.”

Saving staff time and effort

“In terms of staff time, the move to the electronic system has been fantastic. Working chronologically, there is no more time spent working out (unsuccessfully) how many copies of each individual paper is needed for each member of staff. The papers are simply available in any given quantity as soon as the pupils log on. From there, the admin staff no longer need to stand around printing the papers and don’t need to distribute them to the relevant teacher. Alfiesoft is self-marking and so the staff no longer need to sit marking paper after paper. This not only improves the amount of staff time spent during assessment periods but also reduces the cost of printing mark schemes and the amount of human error involved in levelling a pupil. Before the introduction of Alfiesoft we also completed a question by question matrix to highlight where each pupil had specific needs. This is now done by the programme and saves staff a huge amount of time and effort.”

Secure information about which pupil is using which machine

“The transition to using the online system was made much easier through the Magellan Portal. Due to the nature of the login in to Alfiesoft, pupils only need to know their name and date of birth. This meant that we were able to use the tile system in Magellan to allocate different test URLs that the pupils could click on and would be immediately taken to the correct test for them. The computers that the pupils use are logged on and ready to go with a generic username but thanks to the Magellan log in we still know which pupil is using which machine.”

Gain an extra 35 minutes of learning time per assessment

“The amount of time spent giving papers out at the beginning of an assessment would mean that all assessments would require a double period (which usually had dead time at the end of the period). Now, I estimate we save approximately 35 minutes of learning time for each assessment, all made possible by the ease of which Alfiesoft links in to the Magellan system.”