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The closure of physical schools in 2020 and much of 2021 in the Philippines impacted not only the students, but fundamentally disrupted educators' ability to assess students and build and work towards desired learning outcomes, in a myriad of ways. 

As reported in the Inquirer, the survey by the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality and Relevant Education (SEQuRE) in the Philippines, found school closures intensified the workload of teachers, while Manila Bulletin noted that the very same report identified that  "the lack of teaching and learning resources, as well as the ill-designed distance learning program hindered effective remote learning."

Fundamentally, such disruptions impact educators' ability to accurately assess their students’ learning performance. Further still, a lack of insights into their students’ learning experience undermines educators’ from being able evaluate and provide feedback to students to improve outcomes.  If harnessed correctly, there is a wealth of data and information in assignments and exams - particularly in digital formats - that enable educators to assess what students know and don’t know, and precisely address learning gaps when they occur.

Assessment that leverages data analysis helps inform more meaningful, timely feedback and intervention with students, and in turn, offers a clearer path for students. It can also facilitate a better connection and relationship between educators and their students, as when students feel supported and noticed throughout their learning journey, it builds confidence and commitment to the prescribed learning goals. And an empowered student is better equipped to do their own work, rather than relying on shortcuts or the work of others. 

Ultimately, this concept of assessment with integrity  ensures accuracy in  measurement of students’ learning and their associated learning outcomes. The responsibility, however, lies with both educators and students. 

So how can educators uphold assessment with integrity?

There are a variety of plagiarism, similarity  detection, and even proctoring solutions that work to detect and mitigate cheating and validate  learning outcomes. These tools are important to support institutions in conducting accurate assessment , however it is critical to understand that assessment with integrity is about more than just mitigating academic malpractice. It  means nurturing student development by making them feel seen and supported throughout their learning journeys, and empowering them in inclusive course and exam design. 

Assessment with integrity involves:

  • Setting learning objectives early by communicating what students are expected to learn. 
  • Setting defined rubrics to make clear the goals of the learning journey for students.
  • Aligning course content to assessment; testing what is taught and teaching what is tested. As a result, educators ensure fairness and scaffold learning to better prepare students for assessment , and prepared students are generally less inclined to cheat. 
  • Enabling educators to build an 'ally' relationship with students and provide a sense of belonging. Students who feel noticed and have ample opportunities for formative feedback are more supported and less vulnerable to misconduct.
  • Raising awareness of forms of academic misconduct and promoting the value of academic integrity. Student exposure to the consequences of academic misconduct such as copy and paste plagiarism or poor paraphrasing, will help deter the behavior. Furthermore, educators, and administrators who see and understand these emerging threats can take informed, preemptive steps.

Exam design 
  • By providing frequent, low-stakes assessments, students are supported in their learning journeys. Low-stakes assignments help students “fail safely,” and offer transparency into student learning and opportunities for teacher intervention through provision of just-in-time student feedback.
  • Offering multiple exam formats fosters inclusion of different learning styles and measurement,  such as multiple-choice exams and short-answer questions that can measure different components of their understanding. 

In conclusion, assessment with integrity enables more accurate understanding of student performance and supports educator interventions and adjustments to enhance the teaching and learning journey. 

As the Philippines embarks on another dynamic school year, it is important to note that investment in tools to detect deliberate or inadvertent academic misconduct must work alongside a broader strategy of assessment that provides formative learning opportunities embedded in course and assessment design. Supported students who feel seen and prepared  in a learning environment that pursues assessment with integrity , are more likely to prioritize learning and less likely to engage in academic dishonesty or misconduct. It’s a win-win for both students and educators, and the institution as a whole.

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