ONLINE ASSESSMENT: PERSPECTIVES OF DEVELOPERS
The topic of assessment is hot in education right now. High stakes testing, which links test scores to school funding, is now part of the job of school administrators. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires states to test students in more grades more often to prove they are meeting national achievement standards. These tests must be aligned with the state’s academic standards, which can vary in their requirements from NCLB. Test results are being used to hold educators, schools and districts accountable for student achievement.
Assessment is one of the fastest growing segments in education publishing. How have education publishers helped schools make the transition to online assessments? Online assessments are computer-based tests that automatically score student tests. Most include extensive reporting features and suggestions for remediation.
In order to facilitate discussion between educators and companies, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) surveyed top computer-based assessment vendors to learn how they have changed to meet the growing demand for online assessments. The survey included a question about the trends the vendors see concerning online assessments. What follows are their responses.
Riverside Publishing Assessment Division of Houghton Mifflin
Online assessments offer many advantages, including immediate scoring and reporting. They also present some unique development challenges. Content must be viewed effectively on a variety of monitors. It also needs to display consistently on different browsers as well as on different technology platforms.
When moving towards online assessments, be sure to match the online products you are considering with your technology. Then, train teachers to understand, interpret and apply the results to improving instruction.
Riverside has online assessment tools, including Assess2Learn and The Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (www. riverpub.com)
President and CEO
Assessment results need to link to state standards and then to prescriptive learning resources. Continuous assessment of student progress must be provided. Web-based assessment tools provide teachers and students with the opportunity to assess, receive prescriptive resources and assistance, and then reassess student progress. Online assessment will only increase in the future due to: (1) speed and accuracy of responses by all participants; (2) the ability to monitor and adjust assessments quickly; and (3) provide enhanced, active involvement by teacher, student and parent.
EdGate’s suite of products include The Curriculum Matrix and Resources for Educators, Parents and Students (www.edgate.com).
Director of Product
Development Programs CTB/McGraw-Hill
The No Child Left Behind legislation has increased interest in online assessment products. Online assessment systems are becoming more sophisticated. Some systems integrate features such as adaptive test delivery, automated scoring of student open-ended responses and linking from assessment results to instructional resources. Administrators ought to implement their online assessment program in stages. They can do this with adequate staff training and follow-up at each stage. This will insure the investment in technology is paying off in instructional progress.
CTB / McGr aw-Hill offers assessment products, including the i-know family of online tests and item banks (www.ctb.com).
NCLB has caused a lot of confusion, but it has also caused a shift in assessment tools. Whether you are a district of 100 or 100,0000 having a system to quickly assess and report student performance of state standards is critical. If you are looking at formative classroom assessment, you need to utilize technology to effectively and efficiently accomplish your needs. Keeping an assessment program simple and user friendly is always a big issue in education. As long as assessment programs are simple and intuitive, teachers will use them.
Levings Learning offers the PassPlan web-based assessment system (www.passplan.net).
The No Child Left Behind Act has motivated schools to test student progress towards mastering state standards. There is a movement toward computer-based and online assessment. This is despite the difficulties many schools still have with providing computer access for every student and with network bandwidth. A number of states are even experimenting with computer adaptive assessment. Schools need to understand exactly what results they expect to see from this technology investment and how they plan to use the results to inform curriculum decisions.
Riverdeep offers AssessOnline, part of the Teacher Universe product line (www.riverdeep.net).
Vice President of eBusiness
Harcourt Educational Measurement
The No Child Left Behind Act has increased the demand for fast turnaround of results and easy access to data. There is a trend building toward formative, classroom-based assessments that inform instruction around content standards, as well as diagnostics assessments. The reporting requirements are becoming more and more about informing teaching and learning in the language of instruction, not simply quantitative information. Educators are also expecting online testing as well as online reporting. Supporting the periodic use of online assessments throughout the school year is a must.
Harcourt supports dozens of assessment products that focus on assessment solutions (www.harcourt.com).
Director of SAS in Schools
SAS in Schools
Formative assessment directly impacts student learning and progress. This kind of assessment promotes the use of higher-level thinking skills and offers rich content. Hence there is not always one “correct” answer or one way of applying skills. The development challenge is to supply appropriate feedback for all of the possible outcomes in the learning process. To succeed on summative assessments, such as end-of-grade tests, schools need to first focus on improvement in teaching and learning as evidenced by formative assessments.
SAS in School provides Curriculum Pathways, webbased curriculum resources for grades 8-12 (www.SASinSchool.com)
Executive Vice President
There are three challenges in building online assessment tools. First, it is necessary to provide assessments that are aligned to each individual state’s specific standards. Second, it is necessary to stay abreast of developments within each state. Third, it is critical to provide educators with timely reports so the results of the assessments are actionable.
When moving towards online assessments, make sure that your school is technically capable of administering online assessments. It is also important that the assessment instrument is measuring what you want to be measured. It is vital to show teachers how to incorporate the results in the classroom to enable data-driven instruction.
TestU provides Middle School Math Assessments and High School Benchmark Assessments in Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies (www.testu.com)
The No Child Left Behind Act has driven interest in computer-based assessment products. Schools now use assessments as an ongoing method of monitoring progress and linking data to instruction. When considering online assessments, understand how they will improve instruction and whether they will be practical for teachers. Measure with a stopwatch how long it takes teachers to set up, administer, score and review data from these assessments.
Wireless Generation produces handheld computer versions of early reading assessments, (www.wirelessgeneration.com)
Copyright American Society of Educators Jan 2004
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