Over at The Savy Technologist, Tim Wilson has been busy producing some very high quality podcasts. His recent talks with Scott McLeod of CASTLE are very informative and timely for me in my role as a principal. His talk about data driven decision making lead me to a post from Tim about online testing. Several folks responded in comments and I thought I would share my experience using Oregon's online assessment tool, TESA
In Oregon we have the option to have students test online using a web based application called TESA rather than the paper pencil test. Last year at Lewis Elementary, we had our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students take their state tests in reading and math online using TESA. Our 5th grade students also took the science test online.
In Oregon, students can take the online version of the state test up to 3 times during the school year. The high score is the one that counts towards meeting state benchmark. The online version gives teachers, administrators and students immediate feedback as to how students did overall and in specific strand areas. At Lewis we began our testing in January. The tests took most students about 100 minutes. We broke this up over two to three days for most students. We devised a plan so that the testing in the lab was spread out over several weeks. Since Oregon has a very large testing window, basically October to the end of May, we are able to create a schedule that allows us to keep the interruptions in the lab to a minimum. If you are stuck with a short testing window, I can see how this can be a problem.
Another option to consider is that since the test is web based, it is available from any computer in the building. Please note that at Lewis we have a 29 station lab which makes it quite easy to schedule students, but several of our classrooms have 3 - 5 computers, so smaller groups can take the assessments as it fits into various schedules. This is useful when picking up students who may of missed their class test days. I can easily take a smaller group of students into one of our other classrooms and have them take the test.
I find it interesting that in some states, rather than see that the technology provides for new opportunities, they try to fit the technology into old models such as a short testing window, testing all students at the same time, and only assessing once a year...