Sunday, August 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local schools pilot-testing new computer-based exams

By
From page A1 | March 01, 2013 |

Davis students won’t be filling in the bubbles on multiple-choice standardized tests much longer.

Two local schools have participated in pilot testing of new computer-based assessments, as California prepares to switch away from paper-based STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) exams.

The new computer-based assessments — which California hopes to implement statewide by 2014-15 — will include video elements and other enhancements, and some multiple-choice portions of the test will be scored automatically. The new tests also will ask students to read a text, and then type in their response to questions about what they just read.

The Davis School for Independent Study was among the California schools helping to pilot-test the new exams this week. Several DSIS eighth-graders took the math portion of the exam using existing equipment in the DSIS computer lab. Principal Laura Juanitas said the students are so accustomed to using computers that they barely batted an eye when they sat down to try the new online version of the test.

“It’s probably a bigger thing for us (the teachers and administrators) than it is for the kids,” Juanitas said.

“The (new) test is very different than the previous STAR tests,” she continued. “Every question requires a fairly high degree of calculation and computation.”

Upwards of 1,100 schools around the state are taking part in the pilot testing, which began Feb. 20 and will continue through May.

Students at Da Vinci Charter Academy participated in a different pilot test of a computer-based assessment last October. According to Da Vinci Principal Rody Boonchouy, “aside from some minor technical hang-ups, the test went well. Unlike traditional multiple-choice assessments, the students were able to manipulate graphics, watch and analyze animated labs, and move to appropriate test items based on responses. There were also more open-ended responses requiring students to articulate their understanding, as opposed to bubbling one of four choices.”

Da Vinci also has participated in the College and Work Readiness Assessment.

“This spring will be the second year we’ve done this computer-based assessment — the test measures critical thinking and complex problem-solving,” Boonchouy said. “The existing (paper-based) standardized tests are limited in their measures of meaningful student learning.

“If the tests of the future truly measure higher-order thinking and depth of understanding, and how students communicate that understanding, then perhaps they might be tests worth teaching to.”

Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant added that Patwin Elementary is in the planning stages for a pilot test of a computer-based assessment later this spring.

“These pilots give students a chance to interact with these new types of tests,” Bryant said.

Of course, it is one thing to pilot-test the new exams with a small pool of students. But administering a “live” computer-based exam to an entire school would be a lot more complicated, given that schools have different kinds of computers and different generations of software.

Kim Wallace, the district’s recently hired director of instructional technology, said, “As part of the district’s 2013-16 technology plan, we are currently evaluating the number of computers and other devices that meet the Smarter Balanced consortium’s guidelines for computer-based assessments. Once we have an accurate count this spring, we will be able to create a long-term plan to address site technology needs.

“Students and teachers need time to use instructional technologies in their daily lives at school in preparation for how they will eventually be assessed.”

The Smarter Balanced consortium is a multistate group that is developing the computer-based tests with an eye toward implementation of the Common Core academic standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, including California. The implementation of the new academic standards is one of the main factors driving the advent of the computer-based exams.

Principal Juanitas of DSIS described the new Common Core standards as “wonderful … it’s the way teachers have always wanted to teach.”

In all likelihood, when the new computer-based assessments “go live” in 2014, the testing probably will be done in shifts over several weeks, since it is unlikely that schools will have enough computers available for every student to take the exam at the same time. (With the current paper-based tests, an entire school will take the exams in just a few days.)

At the college level, some tests like the Graduate Record Exam are already being administered via computer. But the number of students taking the GRE is very small in comparison with the upwards of 6 million California schoolchildren who are tested annually. A statewide survey conducted last year by the state Department of Education found that California schools had about 600,000 computers and other devices for students — 54 percent of them desktop machines.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the pilot testing represents “an important step toward our goal of creating a testing system that measures how ready our students are for the challenges of a changing world. The immense interest we are seeing reflects the desire among teachers and administrators for California to move toward assessments focused on improving teaching and learning.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

 

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Davis audience hears from civil-rights hero

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Legislators wrap up with water, ethics, guns bills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: This new kid might have a future

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Five U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State fighters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    EU threatens Russia with more sanctions

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Rotary clubs offer Davis High students some life lessons

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Robbery, pursuit in Central Davis lead to one arrest

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Bauer garden marks one year

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Dinner will raise funds to help farmers in Burkina Faso

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Beamer Park featured at Stroll Through History

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Yolo Federal to hold photo contest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Katehi will speak at Chamber’s community luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Bean Feed supports for Yolo Democrats’ activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Tuleyome Tales: Be safe on wilderness trails

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Small wineries suffer big losses in quake

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Grande site has been a convoluted saga

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

     
    Say goodbye to summer with a ‘Final Blast’ at Explorit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Bay Bridge project’s rainy-day money is nearly gone

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A15 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Already made herself at home

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Ad-free email? You can still find it at Davis Community Network

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Keep our green waste piles

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    How to make a good living

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Nate Beeler cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Changing local election dates benefits Democrats

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

    City panel working to tighten scrutiny of taxpayer dollars

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Try round-robin storytelling at crafts fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Health problems mean he’s checked out

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A14

    Marriage doesn’t mean we agree on everything

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A14

     
    This epidemic should scare us

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

    .

    Sports

    New coach, new tougher league for DHS football

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Coach likes what she sees from Devil field hockey squad

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD notebook: Coaches positive about FCS schools ‘playing up’

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils open with an impressive volleyball victory

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Stanford scores early, often in opener versus UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Aggie harriers secure season-opening sweep

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: Cats win late to pull even with Aces

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Comings and Goings: Is fro-yo craze melting?

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13 | Gallery

     
    Sutter Davis Hospital honored again as a ‘best place to work’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

    Community pools its purchasing power to reduce the cost of solar

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20

     
    Engage3 attracts investment for shopping app

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A20

    California growers can use MBI’s new bioinsecticide

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20

     
    Sudwerk, Davis Food Co-op join for ‘co-hop-eration’ brew

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A20 | Gallery

    .

    Obituaries

    Wanda P. Daley

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, August 31, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8