Student Assessment in the UAE

Internal Assessment

In the context of the UAE educational environment, the internal assessment implies a consistent evaluation of the students’ knowledge and skills throughout the entire term. As a result, educators will gather the data that will inform the further teaching strategies. Traditionally, the internal assessment implies measuring the students’ skills, attitudes, and knowledge so that teachers could determine the levels of their proficiency in school subjects (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016d).

To design the tests, the English Continuous Assessment Rich Task (ECART) is typically used. The test outlines the themes and topics that are recurrent in the UAE semester, therefore, allowing for an adequate and complete assessment of the students’ knowledge and skills. As a result of the internal assessment, the students’ level of language proficiency can be labeled as either ‘mastered,’ or ‘developing,’ or ‘emerging’ (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016c).

The process of the internal evaluation of the learners’ skills implies the use of both formative and summative assessments. In other words, the students’ ability to remember essential information and use it in order to manage specific language-related tasks is checked on several levels. As a result, the teacher is capable of determining whether the students have a good command of the language. As a rule, the identified characteristics concern the Arabic language, though the same principles are applied to testing the students’ ability to communicate in English as well (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016c).

External Assessment

An External Assessment in the ADEC framework is defined as a set of standardized tests and a non-biased external agency other than the school. The main purpose of external assessments is to evaluate and navigate the education system so that the efficacy of the current teaching practices could be identified and the possible issues could be detected (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016d).

At present, three types of external assessments are identified in the context of the UAE educational environment. These include Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) standards, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TMIS) (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016a).

As a rule, external assessments are carried out at an international level. The National Assessment Program, which focuses on curriculum development and teacher development, gathers the necessary data and delivers it to the UAE Ministry of Education. As a result, the possible problems in the current education system could be spotted and addressed in a timely and efficient manner (Ridge, 2014).

Apart from the identified tool for external assessment, the tool used by the External Measure of Student Achievement (ESMA) is often viewed as the appropriate one. It was designed to measure the learners’ skills and knowledge with the help of a set of standardized tests. As a rule, the tasks associated with the use of English reading and writing skills are essential parts of the tests (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016b).

Assessment Benchmarks

A plethora of various assessment benchmarks can be identified in the contemporary context of the UAE environment. The subject matter depends on the section of the subject. For example, the strategy of summarizing is assessed by the teacher in the tasks associated with speaking and listening activities, while the strategy of questioning and making connections is significant for the reading comprehension. By the end of each trimester, a test is conducted where students’ performance is measured according to the assessment criteria.

Speaking of the external assessment, the ESMA framework mentioned above was conducted for the first time in the year 2008 and continued to be implemented each year. In 2011 ESMA was suspended. However, UAENAP still takes place every two years and measures the performance of third to twelfth-grade students (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016c).

It should be noted, however, that each subject has a unique set of standards according to which learners need to be assessed. Therefore, the process of the students’ skills evaluation needs to be revised and improved on a regular basis. Thus, the teachers will be able to receive the most accurate information possible about the progress of the learners and their ability to use the acquired skills and the received information in their further problem-solving and decision-making process.

Alignment with the Standards

As stressed above, the standards for the learners’ assessment undergo regular changes and improvements. As far as the English skills are concerned, ADEC is typically used. The framework is aimed at developing students in English in order to meet the needs of the Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision and prepare students for tertiary education, workplaces and life experiences that require English (Abu Dhabi Education Council, n. d.). Compliance with the existing standards is required so that the learner could benefit from the learning process and be able to use the newly acquired skills and knowledge in the future. The focus on promoting the idea of lifelong learning and the active use of the identified abilities in not only the students’ academic life but also in their career is currently actively promoted by the UAE government in accordance with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2012).


Abu Dhabi Education Council. (n. d.). English medium. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2012). Abu Dhabi education reform: The road to 2030. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016a). International assessment. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016b). National assessment. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016c). Private school inspection report. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016d). Standardized assessment. Web.

Ridge, N. (2014). Education and the reverse gender divide in the Gulf States: Embracing the global, ignoring the local. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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