The New South Wales Department of Education (DET) is the largest department of education in the southern hemisphere. They wanted to improve the way they conducted Year 8 science tests to replicate what students did in the laboratory and believed interactive online science testing could test a wider range of skills than just pure scientific knowledge. However, DET estimated for them to host an online test for 65,000 students simultaneously would require a A$200,000 investment in server infrastructure. With the help of partner, Janison Solutions, DET launched its Essential School Science Assessment (ESSA) online exam. In 2010, they trialed an online science exam on Windows Azure that went out to 65,000 students in 650 schools simultaneously. Paying A$40 per hour for 300 Windows Azure servers, DET estimated the cost of hosting the online exam for one day was just $500.
Kate O'Donnell, Director EMSAD, New South Wales DET, Australia