The Minister for Education & Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton, TD, today launched the new Drumcondra Online Testing System (DOTS) and a suite of standardised “Drumcondra” tests for post-primary schools.

The DOTS is a cloud-based, fully integrated, secure system for the delivery of standardised tests to Irish students. Like the tests that it hosts, it was developed in Ireland, specifically for use in Irish schools.

The student interface is designed to maximise the quality of test data collected. This is done by use of a simple but visually appealing design that maintains student interest, but, importantly, does not let technology overshadow what is being assessed.

From a teacher’s perspective, the DOTS significantly reduces administrative work, freeing up time for using test results to inform teaching and learning.

In parallel with the development of the testing platform, three new standardised tests were developed and are now available for use by post-primary teachers. These are:

· Drumcondra Reasoning Test – for incoming First Years

· Drumcondra Maths Test – a curriculum-linked test for the end of Second Year

· Drumcondra Reading Test – a curriculum-linked test for the end of Second Year

More tests are already being added to the system, starting at primary level, where a new suite of Drumcondra reading and maths tests are currently being piloted.

Minister Bruton said:

“I am delighted to launch the Educational Research Centre’s new cloud-based student testing platform and the new Drumcondra tests. Enriching teaching and learning with new curricula and new assessment methods is a key objective of the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. The DOTS testing platform and the new updated tests are an important addition to the assessments available to support teaching and learning in post-primary schools.”

Dr Eemer Eivers, Research Fellow at the ERC said “Post-primary schools can now use a set of assessment tools that are tailor-made for Irish students. For example, teachers can gauge their students’ strengths and weaknesses on specific aspects of the Junior Cycle curriculum.”

Her colleague, Adrian O’Flaherty, commented “Having tested students on both computer– and paper-based formats, I was struck by the high level of engagement among students when testing on computer. As a researcher, I’m much more confident that we are measuring ability and achievement, not student interest – or lack of it.”

Introducing the Minister, the CEO of the Centre, Dr Peter Archer paid tribute to Dr Tom Kellaghan, founder and long-time Director of the ERC. Dr Kellaghan died on Friday and his enormous contribution to research and the Irish education system was noted by the CEO and the Minister.

DOTS was developed by  Vidappt an Irish software, web and application development company based in Dublin with considerable expertise in developing online test platforms. As well as the Education Research Centre (ERC), they have also worked the Public Appointments Service to deliver and administer tests for a number of civil service recruitment campaigns.

The company recently completed its Mobile Data Capture platform that is currently being used by Concern Ireland for its fundraising activities and by face-to-face marketing company, Appco, in its door-to-door campaigns.

Speaking of its online test platform, Mark Langan, Vidappt’s Technical Director said: “Vidappt’s online test authoring and delivery platform provides a complete, end-to-end assessment tool for the secure management and delivery of on-screen assessments, examinations and tests. Customised assessments can be delivered securely and efficiently through a number of different web-enabled devices including PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone.”

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