The NSW Science ESSA test – the background monitoring service

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Yesterday I wrote “Why put assessment in the Cloud?” about the project last year for students in New South Wales in Australia to complete the statutory Science examinations online – replacing a paper-based system that had been used for years. As well as the time-saving and paper-saving, one of the other significant benefits was the ability to track activity on the test in real-time – how many schools were logged on, how many students etc.

At the time it was pretty exciting – Janison, who’d created the ESSA testing programme with NSW DEC, had created a Windows Phone application, so that anybody could watch the data in real time wherever they were. I was down in Melbourne on the first test day, and it was great to be able to show people live information – “Look, there are now 15,000 students logged in!

The only downside to the live metrics was that they were just that – live – so by the end of the week the charts were gone.

But Janison have been even cleverer (is that a word?) by creating a website where you can see a snapshot of the day on 22nd November 2011. You can browse it just like we were able to in real-time during the test, and see exactly the same metrics.

Link to the ESSA live testing metrics review website

There are all kinds of interesting stats. I’ve kept some of the screenshots I took on the 22nd, to give you an idea of the live service. And the stats come from all of the service users, across public and private schools:

The number of active students logged-in to the ESSA test


The number of students who had completed, or were still in progress


Technical information – in this case, the main Internet browsers used

One of the surprises for me was that the minimum screen resolution was 1024×768, with 80% having a horizontal resolution of 1280+ pixels (not shown below, but you can see it on the site linked above)


Logon activity


Active students


Total number of cloud instances


This is a bit geeky – in essence, it shows how many virtual servers Janison deployed to run the testing. And it makes the point – This is why you use the Cloud – because you can just activate 200 servers in the Windows Azure cloud at 5 o’clock in the morning before the test, and then switch them back off afterwards. And only pay for what you use. That’s the beauty of using the Cloud for assessment – you only pay for what you use, and don’t need to build a dedicated server farm full of hardware to run a test.

Learn More

To find out more about this, read yesterday’s post  “Why put assessment in the Cloud?

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