More than 450 companies were at this year’s NECC displaying their technology solutions for educators. Here are some of the highlights of companies’ products related to assessment and instructional management:

Idaho-based CRI Advantage, a provider of K-12 analysis and reporting solutions, announced that it has teamed up with The Administrative Assistants Ltd. (AAL), of Toronto, to jointly market a comprehensive student information management solution. This new solution combines guided analysis with reporting capabilities to provide educators and administrators with new understanding and insight into the management and improvement of student achievement. As part of the venture, CRI provides Academic Accelerator, its powerful yet easy-to-use guided and advanced analytics software to increase understanding and insight into student performance. AAL provides its eSIS product, which offers the specific student-related information administrators need to plan and manage overall operations, including student demographics and test scores. The software lets district and school administrators monitor student enrollment, manage inter-district transfers, and make better strategic, budgetary, and operational decisions.

News from the exhibit hall

  • NECC roundup: CEOs get behind ed-tech
  • Communications and audio
  • Curriculum and software
  • Digital imaging and creativity
  • Hardware and peripherals
  • Library systems and technologies
  • Online learning and research
  • Presentation solutions
  • Professional development
  • School administrative solutions
  • Security and network management
  • With assessment and NCLB hot topics as always, CTB/McGraw-Hill, a leading provider of assessment solutions, came to NECC with the announcement that it has expanded its alliance with TurnLeaf Solutions, which specializes in customized online reporting and data anlalysis. The companies are teaming up to help schools meet NCLB requirements by making TurnLeaf’s Achievement Management System (AMS) available nationwide. AMS enables educators to store local, state, and national assessment data in a central warehousing system. The data then can be manipulated for use in customized reports showing progress over time–a valuable tool for administrators charged with providing Adequate Yearly Progress reports. CTB-McGraw Hill also introduced its I-know and I-know Progress products, which work in tandem with AMS to give educators a comprehensive online solution for instruction and assessment. I-know is a formative online classroom assessment system, while I-know Progress provides web-based data management tools tailored to educators’ needs.

    Curriculum Advantage was at NECC to talk about its new Classworks Import Edition for New York. The program imports state-mandated assessment data into Classworks, enabling New York State educators to tie the state’s learning standards to classroom instruction. Classworks, a network-based system of K-12 language arts and mathematics curriculum and learning tools created from 180 different software products, uses assessment data to prescribe individualized learning paths for students. For the past year, Curriculum Advantage has been revamping the 11-year-old Classworks program into a relevant teaching resource for schools where NCLB standards for accountability and informed instruction have become a major concern. To date, the company has developed state import editions for Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, and Illinois, as well as a Scantron Performance Series import edition.

    GTCO CalComp announced the integration of the Personal Response System (PRS) with its InterWrite Software. InterWrite PRS combines interaction and assessment to enhance classroom activity. Each student has an infrared wireless remote to answer questions given by the teacher. Teachers can create their own questions for the InterWrite PRS or use questions provided in textbooks. The instant charting and displaying of results gives teachers the ability to measure student comprehension, provide real-time student feedback, and refine lessons. Students are able to change their answers throughout the allotted answer time, as well as indicate how confident they are in their answer–all by using their remote control. An integrated gradebook program allows teachers to grade and record test and quiz results in seconds, saving them precious time. With InterWrite PRS, teachers can spend less time taking attendance and administering and scoring quizzes and tests, while spending more time teaching, the company said.

    Holt, Rinehart and Winston, a publisher of textbooks and educational materials for students in grades six through 12, released a new edition of Holt Science & Technology that has been redesigned with new activities, updated text, and new visual resources. The revised middle-school science program includes new supplementary resources such as the Holt One-Stop Planner, a CD-ROM with ExamView Test Generator, Holt Online Assessment, and the popular online edition of the textbook. Holt also announced the release of its Holt Online Assessment for Literature, a new resource that enables teachers to diagnose students’ understanding of literature, assign intervention, and track improvement with benchmark practice tests.

    Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland have entered into an agreement worth nearly $1 million with LeapFrog SchoolHouse, the school division of LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., to give one-to-one LeapPad access to the district’s kindergarten students. Throughout the county, 216 kindergarten classrooms in 70 Title 1 schools will use the LeapTrack Assessment & Instruction System to improve reading, language arts, and math instruction. LeapFrog SchoolHouse says it wants educators to recognize a new category for educational technology–the Personal Learning Tool (PLT). This category is for special-purpose, portable devices that merge curriculum and technology and cost $100 or less, the company said. The company has provided more than 30,000 classrooms with its LeapPad and Quantum Pad products to date.

    Interactive educational software company LearnStar Inc. focuses on products for whole-class activities that motivate students and channel their attention, resulting in documented test score improvements. The software’s built-in academic competitions, challenging quizzes, real-time polling, testing, and performance assessment tools increase teacher effectiveness, LearnStar says. The company’s interactive curriculum includes core subjects for elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as standardized and SAT test preparation, GED, ESL, life skills, and financial literacy. This learning method encourages students to evaluate solutions by synthesizing new material with existing knowledge. A captivating game format makes them eager to learn.

    It was a big week for Microsoft Corp., which highlighted two major announcements in New Orleans. The first involved the software giant’s role in developing an online assessment tool to measure technology literacy in grade-school students. The new tool, a collaboration between Microsoft and ISTE, is the first major initiative in Microsoft’s new U.S. Partners in Learning program. (See Microsoft launches $35M tech training program for U.S. schools.) Microsoft also made news at the conference by announcing that Scantron Testing and Assessment will adopt the Microsoft Class Server learning management platform, enabling student achievement results from Scantron software products to be used by teachers to deliver NCLB-standards aligned instruction. Class Server enables teachers to create, deliver, and grade assessments and lessons over the web.

    The K-12 field’s need for internal assessment practices that synch up with state standards is addressed in the new Prosper Assessment System from Pearson NCS. The company has achieved a breakthrough in combining item banking, test generation, scoring, and reporting in a single, affordable, easy-to-use software package. The system allows teachers to develop tests aligned with both state and local standards. It also allows for immediate feedback on student performance. “This tool is targeted at the classroom,” said Catherine Ronayne, director of education marketing for Pearson NCS. “…We also were able to include a separate database for each category or group of students described in the No Child Left Behind Act.” In addition to customizable data reports, the system generates tests customizable by subject area, and it works with Pearson NCS’s ExamView product to generate its test questions. Data can be disaggregated at the building or district level. The Prosper Assessment System starts at $1,500 with special introductory pricing. Building site licenses also are available.

    PLATO Learning is rolling all of its content onto a single platform, called the Plato Learning and Teaching Enterprise. From one interface, students, teachers, parents, and administrators will have access to a complete suite of PLATO tools for K-20 content, teaching tools, professional development, administration, and assessment. “Everything is available today, this just brings it together on one platform,” said the company’s Terri Redden. The professional development and assessment components won’t be integrated until 2005, PLATO said. The company also recently released two new instructional products to help improve students’ literacy skills. PLATO Advanced Writing Process and Practice is designed to teach writing strategies, grammar, and mechanics to high school students, and PLATO Achieve Now K-3 Reading is a supplemental early reading program that works on PCs and Sony PlayStation game consoles.

    LEAPS (Life Excelerator/Assessment of Personal Skills), an assessment and curriculum program for behavior prevention, intervention, and remediation, is now being used in about 100 school districts in 21 states. This fall, its maker–Provenio Group Inc.–plans to add a post-assessment component so students can be tested before and after they complete the program. Next spring, the company plans to add administrator tools and will release a version suitable for elementary school students.

    Scantron, a leader in educational testing and assessment tools, and SchoolNet announced plans to integrate their respective test management and instructional management systems into a single technology platform, giving schools a single, content-neutral platform for managing accountability, assessment, curriculum, and instruction. SchoolNet will integrate Scantron’s Achievement Series, a web-based test management engine, into its SchoolNet Instructional Management System–a web-based tool that helps educators organize curriculum and track instruction. With Scantron’s test engine integrated into its platform, SchoolNet now will offer school districts a comprehensive technology platform to create and deploy their own exams and quizzes as well as easily integrate those offered by third-party publishers, while providing real-time results to guide instruction in the classroom.

    Sunburst Technology presented a newly designed version of the online learning environment for K-12 schools. The company acquired last February and has been working to enhance the product’s usability. The revised program includes a fully integrated browse-and-search function. With one-click access to the software’s resources, teachers can select student activities through state-specific standards identified in advance. The new release also has more security and usability for the program’s Reporting Tool, enabling schools to better track student performance.

    This eSchool News Online report on the 2004 NECC is made possible with financial support of Dell.