NY Hopes Practice Makes Perfect For Online Testing

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Number two pencils may soon be a thing of the past for New York students. The state is moving toward giving annual standardized tests online instead of on paper, and they want schools to try online testing on a limited basis this year to work out the kinks.

You might think middle school students would have no trouble with online tests, with all the time we spend online these days. But Chenango Valley technology director Sarah Latimer says it’s always a challenge to navigate a new piece of software.

“Some of the math software questions might have a drag and drop component that students need to be able to use in order to be able to build an equation or write out their answer,” she says.

That’s why Latimer’s school wants a test run on giving computerized exams. They hope to be part of a group of district volunteers that will give “field tests” online this spring. Field tests don’t evaluate students or schools, they’re just used to develop new questions. This is the second year that New York has offered online field tests.

Latimer also wants to make sure the district’s infrastructure is up to par.

“It really is a nice idea to be able to test our technology, test our infrastructure and make sure that when push comes to shove, we can put these kids in front of a computer and not run into a lot of technical issues,” she says.

Latimer expects her district to have enough computers and Internet capacity for the testing, but she says devices could be a challenge for some schools. The Elmira Heights school district just passed a technology plan aimed in part at getting ready for computerized testing. They plan to buy 60 new computers each year for the next three years.

The state says online testing will allow schools to receive their results more quickly. Next year, schools can choose to give the full state test on computers.

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