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Prodigy Learning to provide online assessment platform for standardised testing in Irish schools

Ireland's Educational Research Centre awards contract to Prodigy Learning to enable reliable, secure, engaging standardised testing
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Prodigy Learning to provide online assessment platform for standardised testing in Irish schools

Dublin, 1 September 2020 – Dublin-headquartered global education technology firm, Prodigy Learning, is pleased to announce that it has been selected to provide its online assessment platform for use in the rollout of computer-based standardised testing in Irish primary and post-primary schools.

Following a 9-month multi-stage international tender process, Prodigy Learning’s ‘skillify’ online assessment platform was selected over many other leading global testing and assessment solution providers by the Educational Research Centre (ERC), a statutory agency of the Department of Education. The contract is for an initial 5-year period.

The software-as-a-service solution from Prodigy Learning, built natively on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, will replace the ERC’s current computer-based standardised testing tool used in primary and post-primary schools. The new solution employed by the ERC will be known as ERC DOTS (ERC Drumcondra Online Testing System).

The ERC is mandated to provide and support the administration of tests for schools in Ireland, and aims to provide test-takers with an easy-to-use online assessment system that is reliable, secure, engaging and meaningful. The online tests complement the paper-based tests offered by the ERC, while at the same time providing a more engaging student experience and immediate, high-quality reports for schools.

One of the goals in our 2019-2021 strategic plan is to produce a regularly updated suite of high-quality and relevant assessments that reflects best international practices and serves the needs of the Irish educational system” noted Dr. Jude Cosgrove, Chief Executive Officer, Educational Research Centre.

Securing a new best-in-class online assessment system is key to delivering on this goal. After an extensive procurement exercise, we are delighted to have selected Prodigy Learning to deliver the new system and have no doubt that it is a solution that can grow with Irish schools in line with their needs and with the rapidly-changing digital technology landscape in education.”

Prodigy Learning’s solution will provide an integrated online assessment system incorporating test authoring, item banking, secure test delivery with multiple assessment methods, student, school and test-item level reporting, hosting and technical support. The cloud-based assessment platform will allow the ERC the flexibility to develop their own question types and test designs. Its intuitive design will allow schools throughout Ireland to easily select and administer tests, and its highly efficient test delivery system will help to ensure a stable and smooth testing experience for students and schools.

Commenting on the ERC tender award, Prodigy Learning Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Flood, said: “This national contract is a major win and vote of confidence in our online assessment platform at a time of growing worldwide demand for online learning and assessment tools. We are proud to be selected to provide this critical platform to Irish schools. Our team will be with the ERC every step of the way to continuously improve both the test-taking process and results based on continuous feedback.

We developed our online assessment platform alongside input from our industry partners after years of research and feedback from a global customer base. Perhaps the most important benefit of the platform is the ability to support secure delivery at scale with the flexibility to expand functionality and add different types of tests and questions as schools rapidly move to online assessment.”

The initial tests available on the platform for primary schools assess English reading and Mathematics through both English and Gaeilge (Irish) for 3rd to 6th grade classes. In post-primary, the tests will assess verbal, spatial and numeric reasoning in 1st year (7th grade), English reading and mathematics in 2nd year (8th grade), and léitheoireacht Ghaeilge (Irish reading) in 2nd year (8th grade). Test results are scored instantaneously, and individual schools have control over the timing and reporting of results.

The platform will initially accommodate approximately 40,000 tests per year with the capacity to scale as needed. The five-year contract has an option to extend for up to three years and it is expected that more schools will continue to adopt online assessment. ERC plans to develop further tests to meet varied school needs after 2021.

Prodigy Learning’s ‘skillify’ platform is a well-proven solution, built natively on the highly available and secure Microsoft Azure Cloud. The platform hosts many other assessment programmes worldwide including the Company’s own Coding in Minecraft programme, digital skills assessments and assessments for education, state and government clients.

About Prodigy Learning
Prodigy Learning is an award-winning global EdTech business, providing innovative online platforms that enable learners to develop and prove their skills. These solutions range from skills assessments in education through to job-ready digital skills certifications from IT industry leaders including Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft.

The Company was established in 2000 and now has offices in Dublin, Ireland, London, UK, Sydney, Australia and New York, United States.

Prodigy Learning has worked closely with Microsoft since incorporation in 2000. The Company is a Microsoft Gold Application Development Partner and a Global Training Partner of Microsoft in Education. To learn more, visit www.prodigylearning.com.

About the Educational Research Centre
The Educational Research Centre (ERC) is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in research, assessment and evaluation in education. It was established in 1966 in St Patrick’s College Drumcondra. In September 2015, it was designated as a Statutory Body in accordance with the Education Act (1998).

Research is undertaken at the request of the Department of Education, at the request of other agencies and on the initiative of the ERC itself and its staff. The ERC has a statutory mandate to provide and support tests to schools. The dual mission of the ERC is:
(i) to develop high quality assessments and provide strong assessment support services to schools and centres of education; and
(ii) to conduct and disseminate commissioned and independently-initiated national and international research, assessment and evaluation studies.

To learn more about the Educational Research Centre, go to www.erc.ie.

Standardised testing assesses student’s ability and/or achievement with a given curriculum and allows teachers compare a pupil’s progress to that of a nationally representative sample of pupils from the relevant year group or age for the same question or bank of questions.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Press Contacts:

Jim Devlin
Cunningham Devlin Communications
+353 87 2631057

Derek Cunningham
Cunningham Devlin Communications
+353 86 2430535

Aisling Ni Cheallaigh
Marketing Lead, Prodigy Learning
+353 1 293 2924

Published on Tuesday, 1 Sep 2020

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