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Ohio schools test-drive state’s online assessment system

This is the future of state testing in Ohio and elsewhere: All online, more colorful, more interactive, more fun.

A colorful pie chart appears on the screen, inviting pupils to create their own colonies, figuring out how best to allocate their resources.

On another test question, pictures of state senators appear with information hinting to whether they belong in the North or South. Pupils drag the pictures to the appropriate spots.

This is the future of state testing in Ohio and elsewhere: All online, more colorful, more interactive, more fun.

“No more hand cramps,” Lima West Middle School eighth-grader Denzel Stephenson said last week after taking an online state social studies test that mimics what all pupils will take in the future.

Several school districts in the region took part in the Ohio Department of Education’s Online Assessment Pilot. The program allowed school officials and pupils to see how online assessments might work when the state implements the Common Core State Standards in the 2014-15 school year. All testing will be online.

“I am very excited,” said West teacher and social studies curriculum team leader Jeremy Clark. “I was a little nervous at first in setting it up, as far as making sure I was doing it right. But once I did it once, I was very comfortable after that.”

Only eighth-graders participated in the pilot program. West tested 32 pupils. Shawnee schools tested 160, and it went well for teachers and pupils, said Amber Straub, director of development and assessment. She expects a few more challenges when testing more pupils.

For more news about online assessment, see:

States to launch ‘IT readiness’ tool for common assessments

Tips for making the move to online assessments

With online testing on the horizon, infrastructure could be a challenge

“When you have a larger number of students testing and a larger number of people giving the test, there are more opportunities to have issues or concerns,” she said.

Some of those issues, Straub said, include power surges or pupils mistakenly hitting a wrong button and something unexpectedly happening to a computer.

“When the test is real, there is a lot of anxiety about testing anyhow,” she said.

Access to enough technology could be an issue for some schools, officials said. Straub said the state has said schools will have a window of time to get all pupils tested, which should alleviate the issue.

One plus is getting tests results back quicker. Clark said multiple-choice results will be immediate, and the results from constructive response questions will be available within two weeks. Results can take six weeks today. Pupils taking the pilot received feedback immediately.

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