Last year, we were given an option. Go with the traditional paper/pencil Math MCA’s (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) or go with the computerized MCA’s from Pearson Access . (grades 3-8) Seeing the writing on the wall, and knowing that eventually all MCA’s will be electronic, we decided to opt in for the computer based testing.
While it was good to test our infrastructure and of our testing processes, I am amazed at how much TIME we (staff and students) have invested in this getting this 1 computerized test to successfully work in our schools.
- We are very fortunate that we have several labs in our buildings, and while our district computer:student ratio is better than most (3:1) , We basically will not be doing any technology/Internet-based classroom projects during the month of April and half of May due to testing. The Paper Test is generally done in 2 days and does not require any other resources than a pencil and/or paper.
- The hand rostering of students is extremely tedious. In each school database, we are given access to all the students, you then need to hand roster them to their appropriate teachers or groups. Student missing or sick that day? You will have to move them from 1 roster, and re-roster them into another makeup session. While, I understand the process is similar to what you have to do “the paper way” we went from 3, 4, 5 people (in each building) being able to put the paper in the right piles to 1 person with the computer access and know how – to be able to do this. Making what use to take several people a few hours, to one person that can take several days. Oh, and you HOPE there is not a tech support call anywhere in between. I guess I find this frustrating because I am very aware of other testing vendors that allow schools to somewhat automate the process of rostering students by using exports from their student information system (Hint – Not What Everyone Assumes)
- Yesterday when I asked one of my Proctors – “How did everything go?” She said, “Good, we fished at 11:00” They started at 8:15. These are 5th Graders. I guess I am very surprised that the electronic testing systems in this day and age, don’t have the sophistication to figure out where these kiddo’s academically are – without having to have have them sit 2-3hours through mind numbing assessments. (paper or computerized)
- The time to get our results. When is that? Since this is computerized – why cant we get them within a day, week, or month? However – more than likely – the computerized results will come the same day as those paper-based results.
With every rant, I have to also mention some improvements. It is nice that there is some interaction with these tests. The sample test had the typical multiple choice questions as well as the ability to drag lines on a graph or drop numbers in appropriate areas. I also can’t deny that it is nice that students can opt to have the tests read to them. (we have headsets and sound on all of our computers) I am also happy with the tech support we receive when there are issues or even during the prepping.
I guess, my main complaint is the process we have to go through to provide computerized MCA’s. Because of the exuberant amounts of time we spend prepping and testing and the fact that we do not get access to our results any faster – Is this system any better than paper?