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Jan 10, 2005

Scottish Qualifications Authority modernise examination processing

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has announced that it has appointed data capture specialists, DRS to deploy its sophisticated Optical Mark Reading (OMR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) technology for SQA examinations in Scotland. It will employ DRS to design, print and overprint National Qualifications objective test answer sheets and process them in its secure Bureau facility. The OCR/ICR technology developed and manufactured by DRS will be used to process 13 different multiple choice papers across five subject areas Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Biotechnology and Human Biology for the 2005 exam diet.

SQA is responsible for the development, accreditation and assessment of qualifications in Scotland other than degrees and some professional qualifications. The three year contract with DRS will commence in May 2005.

‘The introduction of this technology is a significant step for SQA in the modernisation of Scottish examination processing,’ commented Bill Arundel, project manager SQA. ‘The use of DRS technology will drastically reduce administration time and cost associated with the marking of objective tests and we are pleased to be working with them in paving the way forward and using this innovative technology in Scotland.’

‘The UK examination environment has significantly changed in the past few years and with this firm commitment from SQA, DRS is now working with the majority of National Examination Boards in Scotland, England and Wales,’ commented Tony Lee, managing director DRS. “With better access to examination processing technologies, awarding bodies can not only streamline examination and assessment processing, but also ensure that results are obtained quicker and more accurately than ever before.”

The DRS Print facility will be designing and printing over 70,000 multiple choice examination papers for the 2005 examination season which will then be overprinted with personalised candidate specific data. Once the examinations have been sat, the papers will be securely couriered to the DRS Bureau where they will be electronically processed using DRS’ revolutionary new PhotoScribe® PS900 Imaging scanners.

Built around Microsoft .NET architecture the PS900 provides unique Imaging and Optical Mark Recognition capabilities using drop out imaging techniques and the latest contact head technology to electronically record, and image papers at a rate of 2 per second. Once the data has been captured it will then be transferred to SQA for analysis and inclusion in the results processing system. It will also provide them with a wealth of useful management and evaluation statistics.

DRS Press Office contact: 
Rekha Voralia
Tel: +44(0)1908 423760 
e-Mail: enquiries@drs.co.uk