Fiscal Year Annual Report
(Fiscal Year 1433 – 1434 AH)
The (1433 – 1434) fiscal year has witnessed an ongoing development of the academic programs and an expansion in the activities that carry out the mission of the Center. Those efforts, in addition to providing academic tests and standards, have contributed to the activation of project management and to the Strategic Plan Project and the Quality Project. Those combined efforts have helped maintain leadership and achieve the goals set. Throughout the past year, there have been many symposiums, seminars and workshops, given by several experts, that discussed a number of topics relevant to the work and projects of the Center.
The achievements made throughout this fiscal year were:
The National Center for Assessment administered many tests relevant to its field of expertise. They were:
· Arabic and English Graduate Aptitude Test (GAT) for high school graduates: It is a test constructed for high school graduates who want to enroll in institutions of higher education. It measures a number of learning competences such as analytical skills and deductive reasoning in two parts: language (verbal) and mathematics (quantitative).
· Arabic and English Educational Achievement Test: It is a test used by universities and institutions of higher education for admission purposes so to assure fairness and equal chances for everyone in higher education. It focuses on the main concepts of the courses students study throughout the three years of high school.
· General Aptitude Tests for bachelor's degree holders: It is a test written for postgraduate students. It is similar in essence to the GRE test. It consists of two parts: verbal and quantitative ones of a higher level than the one administered to high school graduates, three other parts concerned with logic, critical thinking and questions on reasoning and analysis.
· Arabic Language Proficiency Test for non-native speakers of Arabic: Because of its significance, the Center provides a test on the Arabic language for non-native speakers. It is designed to measure the test-takers' basic competence of Arabic in areas such as structure, writing, style, listening and reading comprehension.
· STEP Test: This test is similar to the TOEFL and IELTS tests. It is constructed in accordance with the standards of the Common European Framework and administered to students who want to obtain certificates that specify their levels in English or to apply for English programs in Saudi universities or programs that require a certain level of English proficiency.
· Tests for identifying gifted and creative students: They are a group of original tests that measure the mental and creative abilities and the personality traits of primary and intermediate school candidates. They are a result of knowledge accumulation in the area of talent and creativity which adds a lot to its precision. These tests go under an agreement with King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba).
· General Tour Guide Test: It is a test that measures the minimum competence of knowledge and skills candidates should have. It aims at measuring the skills and knowledge of each Saudi candidate applying for the position of general tourist guide and then licensing them.
· Teacher Competency Tests: They are a group of tests written for candidates applying for a teaching position at the Ministry of Education. The test measures the minimum level of standards a candidate should have including all the knowledge and skills that cover the basic aspects of the profession. The results of the test are used by the Ministry of Education for screening the applicants. The test consists of four basic parts: educational, linguistic, numerical and specialized standards. This test has been administered by the Center for the past five years. It has also started an ambitious project in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and King Abdullah's Project for Public Education Development. This project aims at utilizing national and international standards in developing national standards for the teaching profession on which different tests will be based. This project involves coordinating with the relevant authorities such as universities and other bodies concerned with teacher professional development and providing them with the necessary indicators for identifying their academic, training and educational needs. The project has come a long way as it adopts the best international standards suitable for the local environment. Furthermore, a test bank was formed to include many sample tests written based on those revised standards.
· The Professional Test for the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution: This test is designed to measure the mental, personal and social dimensions of candidates with law and religion as their majors in order to determine whether or not they have the qualities and skills required for the profession. The test was constructed in accordance with the requirements of the Bureau based on an analysis of the skills, competencies and personal traits that each employee in the Bureau should have.
· Career Aptitude Test: The Center in collaboration with the Human Resources Development Fund has developed the career aptitude scale. Interest is not enough for one to take on and succeed in a certain job. Some jobs require certain levels of competence and mental abilities. Sometimes interest captivates the person that he/ she has different expectations for a profession. Therefore, it is necessary to have a three-dimension scale when judging how suitable the chosen professions are for the candidates. These dimensions are: interest, job expectations and competence. Measuring the above-mentioned dimensions helps decision-takers guide applicants to their suitable professions.
· Tests for Measuring the Outcomes of Higher Education: The Center undertakes the National Project for Measuring Higher Education Outcomes for the Ministry of Higher Education with the aim of enhancing the quality of the educational outcomes. To achieve this, the Center administers standardized tests to measure the outcomes of Higher Education. This is one of the projects that Higher Education aims to adopt in order to improve the quality of the national system of Higher Education.
The National Project for Measuring Higher Education Outcomes consists of two integral parts. The first part tackles preparing the intended learning outcomes and the rubrics on which the standardized tests will be based. Because the project aims at covering all the majors of Higher Education, it is implemented in a number of stages. In addition, preparing the intended learning outcomes and rubrics is considered an essential part of applying the academic standards that should be sought when developing study plans in the majors concerned.
I. Written Tests:
For this year (1433), the Center has written a considerable number of new tests, namely:
GAT – male students
GAT – female students
General Aptitude Tests
Scientific SAAT – male students
Scientific SAAT – female students
Theoretical SAAT – female students
Scientific SAAT – (in English)
Arabic Language Proficiency Test for non-native speakers
The total number of tests written: 97
The total number of sample tests: 407
The total of all the questions written for all tests including pilot ones: 48,200
III. Tests Held:
1. The number of all the test-takers in the academic year 1432 – 1433 was 1,184,344 students i.e. 3.5% more than the ones of the previous academic year (1431 – 1432) in which 1,127,000 students took the tests in (30) test cycles.
The following table illustrates the dates of administering the tests throughout the year (1433):
GAT – Muharram, 1433 for male students
GAT - Rabi' I, 1433 for female students
GAT - Jumada I, 1433 for male students
SAAT – Rajab, 1433 for male students
GAT and SAAT – Rajab, 1433 for female students
General Aptitude Test – Dhu AlQi'dah 1432 for male and female students
General Aptitude Test – Rabi' I, 1433 for male and female students
General Aptitude Test – Rajab, 1433 for male and female students
STEP Test – Rabi' I, 1433 for male and female students
STEP Test – Rajab, 1433 for male and female students
Teacher Competency Test – Rabi' I, 1433 for male students
Talent Scale – Jumada I, 1433 for male and female students
GAT – 1433 for male students (exceptional)
SAAT - 1433 for male students (exceptional)
GAT and SAAT - 1433 for female students (exceptional)
GAT -1433 for male and female students (exceptional)
STEP Test - 1433 for male and female students (exceptional)
The Professional Test for the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution - Jumada II, 1433 for male students
Teacher Competency Test – 1433 for male students (exceptional)
External Tests (Qatar) – GAT – Rabi' II, 1433
External Tests (Bahrain) – GAT – Sha'aban, 1433
External Tests (Bahrain) – GAT – Ramadan, 1433
External Tests (Bahrain) – General Aptitude Test – Ramadan, 1433
The number of students who took the General Aptitude Test has increased by 49% compared to the year before (1432). The total number was (65,600) students. The STEP test has also witnessed an increase by 70% in test-takers reaching (58,000) students because it is a prerequisite for joining postgraduate programs.
IV. System and Infrastructure Development:
The Center has spared no effort to succeed in developing and administering tests. Therefore, it started utilizing some new developed systems such as:
· Issuing test admit cards for female students: Teams had been formed for issuing smart cards for female students in their schools. The project covered most of the schools in the areas and provinces that hosted the test administration for the students. The approximate number of schools visited this year was (1,680) schools with (145,068) students. Only (28, 156) students had their national ID cards in the visited schools. The project was implemented in two months in which (9,534) students received their smart cards from the test Centers.
· The project of developing the technical infrastructure of the Center: This project includes:
Developing the system of the test bank.
Developing the test systems of measuring professional interests and abilities.
Developing and maintaining EMS.
Launching the Center's test preparation and training project on the internet:
Business Development Department
"E-register services" project.
Transactions and Relations Department
Integrate the systems of the Center into MS BizTalk systems.
Information Technology Department
The project of developing the financial and administrative systems (ERP)
Financial and Administrative Affairs Department
Developing administrative and human resources systems in ERP AX
Human Resources Department
Developing the SSLVPN + RSA systems
Finishing the intranet upgrade
Qiyas' IT Infrastructure
Implementing the F5 project for distributing burden among servers
Qiyas' IT Infrastructure
Finalizing the project of the virtual environment system for server systems
Qiyas' IT Infrastructure
Establishing the computer-based test Center prototype in accordance with the international specifications of Pearson Vue with (30) seats equipped with communication and surveillance systems.
Computer- Based Tests Department
Developing the communication systems of conferencing and holding meetings by using Microsoft Lync System
Developing the backup systems by using the systems and equipment of the international EMC corporation
Qiyas' IT Infrastructure
V. Computer-Based Tests:
In order to develop its services, enhance quality and provide tests in a flexible manner, the Center has established a department for computer-based tests. It is concerned with administering the Center's tests on computers. The following illustrates the work done by this Department:
· Assessing and studying the feasibility of applying computer-based tests: After assessing many leading systems in the field of providing computer-based tests, the Center selected Pearson Vue Systems. In addition, it established an experimental lab for computer-based tests to try the system by administering the GAT and STEP tests to more than 200 students in the Center's headquarters in Riyadh.
The launching of (15) headquarters distributed among the Kingdom's provinces in the first phase (2013) is still in progress. It is expected that the Center will start administering computer-based tests by the year 1434, Jumada I.
The Center is also investigating the feasibility of opening headquarters outside the Kingdom in the following countries:
United States of America
United Arab Emirates
VI. Research and Studies: The Center has paid good attention to research. The following sheds light on its achievements in this regard:
· Standardizing and codifying all the procedures related to approving, supervising, refereeing and revising research topics.
· Following up with all the research papers in progress to finalize them. These research papers tackle:
1. The study of the correlation between Teacher Proficiency Tests and students' GPAs and General Aptitude Test results.
2. The levels of candidates applying for teaching positions as measured by Teacher Proficiency Tests.
3. The factorial structure of General Aptitude Tests.
4. Assessing the predictive ability of the admission standards applied in universities.
5. The study of linking the tests administered by the Center to other similar foreign tests such as SAT1, SAT2 and TOEFL.
· Investigating bias in the tests administered by the Center.
· Studying the relationship between students' levels in GAT, their academic achievements in secondary school and their GPAs in preparatory year programs.
· Distributing the different levels of students to Saudi universities.
· Publishing a number of research papers and studies last year such as:
1. The ability of admission standards to predict students' GPAs in the first year in some Saudi universities.
2. Analysing some attitudes of writers in Saudi newspapers towards the Center.
3. The internal structure of verbal ability tests: Integration between explanatory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis.
4. A vision for the reality of secondary school education and its development.
5. The performance of secondary school graduates in GAT and the basic cognitive skills in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
· Identifying the research needs of the Center. In this regard, the Center held two panel discussions in which 158 topics were proposed in nine elements. These topics are reviewed so to eliminate the repeated ones and prepare them to be studied by researchers.
· Contacting researchers: A good number of researchers were contacted to invite them to conduct research based on their majors and areas of interests. The researchers provided the Center with their topics and a copy of the CERP for each paper.
· Visiting Expert Project: The Center hosts an expert or more to conduct research as well as to exchange experience in the other areas the Center needs. This year, the Center has contacted several professors from international universities such as:
1. Prof. Mohammed Hisham Lee (University of Technology, Malaysia) agreed to spend the year (2013) in the Center.
2. Prof. Dimiter Dimitrove (George Mason University, USA) spent six weeks in the Center starting from (1/12/2012).
3. Dr. Zhang Bo (University of Wisconsin, USA) expressed his interest in going on sabbatical in the Center for a semester starting from 1/6/2013.
4. Dr. Timothy Teo (University of Auckland, New Zealand) expressed his interest in spending three weeks in the Center.
I. Symposiums, Conferences, Visits, Meetings, Exhibitions and Workshops:
a. Symposiums and Conferences:
Holding the symposium
"Setting the Standards of Measuring the Outcomes of Higher Education".
A paper presented in the annual symposium held at the Ministry of Education on
"Continuous Assessment: Standards and Indicators: The Document of Teacher Standards in Education Assessment".
Participating with a paper on the role of the Center in developing the EPT and STEP tests in a symposium held at Imam University on
"Teaching English in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Reality and Challenges".
Webcast lectures from the conference held by the National American Association for Education Assessment namely, "Standard Setting in the Real World, Issues and Advances in Constructed-Response", "IRT-Based Test Linking in R" and "A Generalized Linear Mixed Model Approach to IRT Measurement Issues."
Participating in a symposium, held in Umm AlQura University, with a paper on "The Role of Assessment Tests in Bridging the Gap between General Education and Higher Education".
Participating in a symposium, held in the General Auditing Bureau, with a paper on "Ways of Promoting Cooperation to Achieve the Goals of Comprehensive Auditing and Performance Monitoring".
Attending and participating in the annual conference, held in Kazakhstan, of the International Association for Education Assessment with two research papers on setting standards for education outcomes to make a positive change at the level of individuals and institutions.
A Webcast lecture given by Caveon Test Security (USA) on:
"Everything You Need to Know to Implement a Data Forensics Program".
Workshop on Engineers Tests.
A three-day workshop on judging the standards of engineers tests.
Workshop for launching the project of establishing the quality system in the Center.
A one-month workshop for correcting the tests for talent identification (Mawhiba).
A three-day workshop on the techniques of writing questions.
A four-day workshop on correcting Arabic writing tests for non-native speakers of Arabic.
Workshop on introducing the English language test to the English Language Association.
Workshop on judging the standards of Higher Education outcomes for engineering majors.
A three-day workshop on managing educational tests (the techniques of writing GAT questions).
A six-day workshop on managing language tests (English tests).
Workshop on judging the standards of Higher Education outcomes for engineering majors.
Workshop for introducing the English language test to the English Language Association.
A three-day workshop on the techniques of writing STEP and GAT tests.
A six-day workshop on English tests.
A two-day workshop on professional competency tests for the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution.
A four-day workshop on the methodology and e-system of project management.
A two-day workshop on Teacher Professional Tests.
A seven-day workshop on the methodology and e-system of project management.
A meeting of international experiences (project management).
A two-day workshop on testing the writing skill in Arabic.
A meeting for presenting and discussing the results of the field studies of the Center.
A workshop for discussing the impact of the current services and creating the value-added chain model.
A workshop for establishing a database for the Center.
A workshop on opportunities and challenges.
A meeting for discussing future scenarios.
A workshop for discussing strategic initiatives.
A workshop for discussing projects and programs.
A seminar for identifying research needs.
A workshop for discussing the first draft of the Strategic Plan.
The Center also organized (18) gatherings and visits to introduce the Center to a number of delegates, governmental bodies and schools. In addition, it participated in five big exhibitions.
VIII. Beneficiary Services:
a. E-Mail and Call Center: The Center provided a hotline for answering students' questions during the period of 1/11/1432 to 24/9/1433. The total number of calls answered was (254,823) calls and the number of e-mails replied to was (11,252) e-mails. The Center also received (4,246) faxes. Furthermore, the Center served more than (30,000) candidates through Twitter as it wrote more than (18,400) tweets: (16243) tweets were in reply to candidates' questions and (2218) were informative ones.
b. GAT Training Program for secondary school graduates: In recognition of its duty to serve GAT candidates and in order to enhance academic and cognitive achievement, meet the highest standards, train students and ease their minds about the tests, the Center has launched the GAT Training Program for male and female students. This program involves training students on doing tests that match the components and content of GAT tests. In this regard, the Center has also launched a website (elearning.qiyas.sa) for pilot tests. The number of students benefitting from the services provided by the website is approximately (500,000) students.
This program is a comprehensive program for training and e-learning. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for communication and knowledge transfer. It consists of three parts: scientific concepts, exercises and pilot tests.
IX. The Quality Project:
Since quality is a core philosophy the Center follows, it established a department for quality. It has also launched the quality project which involves quality planning, quality measurement and analysis, continuous improvement, control, documentation and training. The project aims at fostering the culture of quality, as well.
X. The Strategic Plan:
Ten years after its establishment, the National Center for Assessment in Higher Education (Qiyas) has attained its goals. The achievements of the Center were remarkable. However, the need for a strategic plan that fulfils its vision was inevitable. Therefore, it has launched the project of the Strategic Plan which aims at:
1. Developing a ten-year future comprehensive strategic plan to identify the directions, priorities and work of the Center and to develop its technical and administrative aspects. This includes identifying its future vision, mission, strategic goals and objectives in accordance with modern academic principles.
2. Preparing an interim operational plan for the next five years that includes practical programs in order to achieve the Center's goals, setting implementation mechanisms, timetables and performance indicators and conducting periodical auditing and development processes.
3. Setting the mechanisms that help adopt and foster the culture of strategic planning, thinking and change management in the Center.
The project of developing the plan involved a number of phases namely: studying the current status of the Center, strategic analysis, forming the strategic features and developing the operational plan. The project also carried out several field studies. Furthermore, (2100) participants took part in seminars, focus groups and surveys filled in by some employees of the Center, members of board of directors, some of the public and private sectors' interested bodies, major national companies, prominent mass media figures concerned with assessment in the region and representatives of the leading international bodies similar to the Center.
The Center entered into a contract with the most important specialised Centers to develop the plan. In this regard, (12) specialized workshops were held for the planning process in order to determine its outcomes with the participation of the Center's leasers, consultants and the plan's team of consultants.
As result of the analysis, key issues were identified, namely:
· The current and future identity of the Center.
· Expansion, diversification and business development.
· Maintaining the Center's leadership.
· Production and academic publishing.
· Technology and information security.
· Communicating with the beneficiaries.
· Technical and administrative abilities.
· Social responsibility.
· Financial sustainability.
After the in-depth analysis, the vision, mission and strategic goals were formulated as follows:
Vision: To be an international reference in the field of assessment and measurement.
Mission: To provide comprehensive and integrated solutions that scientifically measure and evaluate knowledge, skills and aptitude with the purpose of achieving fairness, maintaining quality and satisfying development needs.
1. Keeping up with the requirements of the products and services' beneficiaries.
2. Expanding in order to be an international leading body in assessment.
3. Supporting research and studies.
4. Boosting the beneficiaries and stakeholders' level of satisfaction.
5. Developing the institutional capacity.
6. Realizing the concept of social responsibility.
7. Achieving financial sustainability for the Center.
As part of the establishment of the project management office (PMO) and in cooperation with a consulting body, the office has built the infrastructure.This includes:
· Drawing up the charter of the PMO including its objectives and strategic plan.
· Constructing a standardized methodology for every project management in the Center in a professional manner based on the international standards of the PMI to ensure the success of the project.
· Developing the e-system of project management to monitor projects and track performance. This system will be of benefit to the upper management, managers as well as the employees of the Center.
· Fostering the culture of project managing by administering training programs for the Center's employees.
XII. The First International Conference for Measurement and Assessment:
The purpose of holding the conference:
Based on the role assumed by the Center in providing academic admission standards and as it is keen on benefitting from the international experiences to enrich and enhance its experience, it held the First International Conference under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. It was entitled "The Standards of Admission in Higher Education" and held on 18th to 20thof Muharram, 1434.
It attracted more than (25) distinguished scholars and researchers. The papers accepted were (25) papers presented under four elements, namely:
1. Theoretical principles, correction and steps of writing tests.
2. Correcting and analysing tests.
3. Managing tests.
4. International experiences in admission standards.
Papers were presented in (17) sessions and the number of participants was approximately (790) participants. The opening ceremony included a general symposium on assessment tests and their impact on society.
XIII. Qiyas' Award for Excellence:
Because the Center pays good attention to encouraging distinguished students, schools and researchers in the field of assessment, the Board of Directors has approved Qiyas' Award for Excellence in three forms: Qiyas' Award for Distinguished Students, Qiyas' Award for Distinguished Schools and Qiyas' Award for Research Excellence in the field of measurement and assessment.
The awards for research excellence and for distinguished students were given in the opening ceremony of the First International Conference for Measurement and Assessment for the first time in which ten male students, ten female students, five schools for male students and five more schools for female students received their awards.