19 May 2005, 04:47:32 PM

Reporter: Rohan Wenn

These days, it almost seems like parents need to go back to school just to understand school reports. A, B, C D, and marks out of one hundred, have been replaced with ambiguous terms like Established, Developing, Beginning.

Gail McHardy from Parents Victoria says the new styles of school reports are confusing and unhelpful.

Which is why the Australian council for Education Research has created the “i-achieve” testing program. As Professor Jim Tognulini explains, the on-line system gives parents a clear set of marks, scores and results, without the politically mumbo jumbo. “The beauty of it is you do the test, you submit it, and within one second you get your whole report back”, Professor Tognulini said.

Penny Maher put her two children, Jed and Hannah, to the on-line test and she felt the feedback was fantastic.

The children answer forty questions per subject, and once completed, and receive instant, detailed statistics and comments about what they know and what they need to brush up on.

And if parents want the results presented in the old fashioned style, with a percentage mark and an A B C D or F, the program will do that too. “The important part of the information is what did you get right, what did you get wrong, which skills appear to need some extra help”, said Professor Tognulini.

Then at the end of the year, the child is given a second test to see how they have improved and what areas still need a little attention. “the whole process is on improving learning. It's not focused on pass and fail”, Professor Tognulini said.

At the moment the testing program is available for Maths and English, but the Council for Education Research will expand the service into other subjects over the next year.

It costs around $100 per each subject and that covers all the testing and re-testing. As far as Penny is concerned, that money is simply the price you pay for clarity “That instant feedback, which they don't get from basic skills or other testing at school, is really important, for them to see and improve”, Penny said.

For further information about the testing program visit the website at: