READ grant is supporting the design and piloting of computer-based testing in mathematics, a core UEE subject. The focus is on ensuring alignment of the computer-based test with both the State Standard for education and State Standard for mathematics curriculum. The second stage of the computer-based UEE pilot commenced in February 2018, covering over 700 students in the capital city of Yerevan – including Marine – who took both paper- and computer-based tests.
The UEE plays a vital role in Armenia’s education system. This year alone, over 4,300 high school students will take the high-stakes exam, which decides whether they graduate from secondary school, and which higher-education institution they are admitted to. The Assessment and Testing Center oversees the UEE as well as large-scale national and international assessments in Armenia. In 2007, the Assessment and Testing Center piloted the UEE in Armenian Language and Literature, applying standardized test procedures and modern technologies. Since 2009, the UEE has covered all secondary-school subjects.
Objectivity in measuring learning outcomes, including through transparent test administration procedures, with same-day administration and grading across Armenia are core principles of the UEE. Still, it has had its challenges. Public confidence in the exam has been threatened by instances of inappropriate behavior during the examination process, and by limited comparability of examination results between subjects and across years. Exclusive reliance on multiple-choice questions limits the scope of testable content, and the necessity of private tutoring to pass some UEE subject tests raises equity concerns.
Armenia has focused on improving the overall efficiency of UEE administration, increasing public confidence, and improving test quality. After assessing needs, costs, challenges, and risks of various approaches (under the first Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund program), Armenia has committed to a gradual introduction of computer-based testing for the UEE under the READ Trust Fund.