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Izvestia: Unified State Exam assignments to be personalized

The article originally published on unkniga.ru

There are plans to personalize Basic State Exam and Unified State Examination assignments, Izvestia reports. This task was formulated in the government’s report to the Federal Assembly on the policy in the area of education, which Izvestia journalists were introduced to.

By Anna Ivushkina

The innovation will help address the issue of copying and “leaking” the answers and reduce criticism of the unified state examinations. Similar AI-based technologies can be used during the School Olympics, according to experts interviewed by Izvestia.

The idea of computerizing USE and BSE exams is recorded in the Report as one of the top priority tasks aimed at improving and developing general education. It is expected to enable “automatic generation of personalized variants of the testing and assessment materials”, as stated in the document.

Never Before, Never Again

A year ago Rosobrnadzor (Federal Education Supervision Agency) officials told Izvestia they would like to try computerizing the exams in information science. The authorities said the new form of examination would pass “a broad public and professional discussion”. The model can be recommended for use in the Unified State Examination system once the watchdog makes sure there is sufficient infrastructure available to ensure equal conditions to students in all regions. Rosobrnadzor expects the new examination to be implemented by 2022.

The agency also reported it expects to move to automated assessment of all Unified State Examination assignments by 2030.

So far it is unknown when the transition to personalized examination materials will become possible. The officials promised Izvestia a more detailed response later.

Today USE and BSE are taken in writing, by filling a paper form with a black gel-ink pen. The works are then scanned, with the computer checking the test part and human experts checking the detailed answers.

On Monday it was announced that a Gymnasium 3 graduate in Astrakhan failed the exam after his work could not be scanned due to a technical error and was not counted by the expert committee. The student therefore received zero point and will have to retake the exam. This situation would be less likely if the examination were taken on a computer.

The existing examination model has quite a few physical vulnerabilities, says Timur Sadykov, head of the Artificial Intelligence, Neural Technologies and Business Analytics Laboratory at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

– The two biggest technical issues with the Unified State Examination — “leaked” assignments and copying — can be addressed by increasing the number of assignment variants, though this is only an interim solution. A fully personified examination would be the radical measure, rendering copying the answers useless, while any leaked USE variant would be guaranteed to differ from what a student would see at the exam, the expert believes.

However, when formation of the assignments and generation of the reference solutions would be offloaded to artificial intelligence, the teachers would find it increasingly hard to motivate the students for a deeper knowledge of the disciplines and emphasize the value of knowledge in general, Timur Sadykov added.

Check It Yourself

The computer testing model needed to introduce personalized state examination assignments is not possible without a powerful artificial intelligence to create and verify the assignments, says Alexander Borodich founder of Universa Blockchain project.

– A system that powerful and complex must be secured against hacking and attacks, making sure the results cannot be compromised. The best way to ensure security would be to use the distributed ledger technology, which allows keeping data invariable unless all the nodes on the network agree to modify it. That is, even if a server gets hacked, the intruders will not be able to forge the results, the expert explained to Izvestia.

A similar AI-based system could be used at School Olympics to identify and encourage the most talented children, Irina Abankina, director of Education Development Institute at NRU-HSE.

– The demand for programs like this exists. First of all, corruption has unfortunately infiltrated the Olympic movement, and computerized checking would ensure unbiased assessment. And second, there is a problem selecting the assignments of more or less the same difficulty. AI is better than humans at tackling this issue, she remarked.

Earlier Izvestia reported that this year schools in several pilot areas would receive USE examination assignments strictly over secure online channels; next year most educational institutions in the country would switch to this distribution mechanism. This was announced by Anzor Muzaev, Deputy Chairman Rosobrnadzor.

Unified State Examinations country-wide are broadcast online for several years now. Live video feeds from the classrooms are available to online observers, with the portal allowing recording any violations in real time. The broadcasts are available from 93% of the classrooms. The rest are used by students with special health needs, as they are given more relaxed rules. For example, the graduates are allowed to bring food, the exam time is extended by 90 minutes, and they can leave the classrooms. To prevent numerous false reports of violations, no live broadcasts are provided from these classrooms, but the footage becomes available for viewing after the exams.

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