New literacy tests introduced at Dubai private schools

Assessments in English and Arabic for pupils aged six to 15 to be carried out three times during the academic year

Dubai private school pupils aged between six and 15 will sit new reading and literacy tests three times a year. Ruel Pableo for The National
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New reading and literacy tests in English and Arabic have been introduced at Dubai private schools for the current academic year.

Pupils aged six to 15 will given the assessments three times during the school year under new measures from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the emirate's private education regulator.

The tests have been devised by external bodies.

“We have been doing assessments, and the new regulations require consistency across all schools in regards to the number of times the assessments are done for reading and the specifics of the Arabic assessments,” said Glen Radojkovich, deputy director of education provider, Taaleem.

“The practice of assessing obviously isn't new, but the tools and the regularity has been changed by KHDA.

“These are external assessments that are required to be done and for those, for that data to be shared with the authorising bodies.”

He said the tests were created to help bring consistency in literacy and data collection.

“Schools assess the reading levels historically, using internal and external methods, and a range of different ways of assessing the pupils and so for KHDA, when they're looking at the data and interpreting it, it's quite challenging to compare schools,” he said.

He said the new tests were comprehensive and focused on phonics, word recognition, reading comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, interpretation and comparative analysis of passages, critiquing a text and comprehension of different genres, including poetry.

Schools have the flexibility to select a reading assessment platform and provider that is appropriate for them and their context as long as these meet the aforementioned requirements.

Peter Bonner, assistant principal of the primary section at Gems World Academy in Dubai, said: “Assessments must be computer-adaptive assessments and results should show each pupil's reading age in comparison to grade/age expectations, and also a Standard Age Score (SAS) to facilitate comparison of data.

“They should allow a detailed analysis of results, which is then used to support identification of individual student needs and how these drive interventions with all students.

“Generally speaking, while reading assessment results are not required to be shared with parents, this is generally done as a matter of effective practice so that transparency is maintained and so that students’ next steps are clearly defined for teachers, parents and students.”

Updated: November 17, 2022, 4:07 PM