It’s on again, the annual online science assessment (the ESSA test) that brings all year 8 students, in all Government, Catholic and Private Schools in NSW, together on one day to do an online science assessment. And it's happening right now, with help from Microsoft's cloud services.

ESSA Test 2012

Each year this assessment happens online through a combination of using cloud platform technologies (from Microsoft's Windows Azure) and the latest techniques for building scalable assessment systems from Janison, a Coffs Harbour company. Of course, the scale of the assessment, with anything up to 85,000 students taking the test in one day is huge. Wayne Houlden, CEO of Janison told me a little about it:

  Last year we peaked at 500 schools active at the same time – this year we think we might go just a little higher. We are also expecting a few more students on this year, so this year we have 500 Windows Azure processor cores to handle the demand.  

You can see below, that pretty soon after 9AM last year, hundreds of schools were logging and getting their students started.

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Watch the ESSA test progresss in real time

Possibly one of the most interesting things about the test is that you can watch it happening in real time. The Janison team have built a Metrics site where you can watch the statistics as they happen – the number of schools logged on, the number of students taking the assessment every second, and the utilisation of the cloud services and technology that sit behind it.

Here's a screenshot of the Student Status screen taken a couple of minutes ago:

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So, as oftwo minutes ago, 16,889 students had already completed their test, and a further 9,933 were in progress.

There's a heap of further detail showing in the live stats – head over to http://cafemetrics.cloudapp.net/essa2012 for a look.

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