Designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers

Roughly 20 percent of U.S. residents, which is approximately 67.3 million people (equal to the population of France), speak a language other than English at home, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. When it comes to taking tests not in their first language, these groups can be at a notable disadvantage – especially for tests that influence a test-takers’ future. 

Language is a significant barrier to fair and inclusive testing, particularly if language fluency is not relevant to the skill being measured by the test. This is why designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers is a key component of equitable testing.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that migrants, on average, get significantly lower literacy and numeracy test scores than native speakers. About half of it relates to the language of the test, meaning that if the migrants were tested in their own language, about half the difference would disappear.…Read More

With Rising Concerns About Dyslexia in Young Learners, Riverside Insights Introduces First-of-its Kind Playbook to Streamline Evaluations

ITASCA, Ill. – Riverside Insights®, a leading developer of research-based assessments and analytics, today debuted a new Assessment Playbook focused on streamlining the evaluation of dyslexia, the most common learning disability, affecting 20% of the population. The new playbook makes assessments more effective and efficient by providing a recommended process for selective testing and a specific test list for querying the most salient features of dyslexia.

“The pandemic disrupted teaching and learning, and has led to a dramatic increase in the number of students who are referred for dyslexia evaluations by their teachers and/or parents. Consequently, evaluators must determine if a student’s reading difficulties are primarily a reflection of this disruption or an indication of a true reading disability,” said dyslexia expert Dr. Nancy Mather, a professor in the  College of Education, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona. “To address this issue and the increase in assessment referrals, evaluators need effective and efficient assessment tools to ensure that all students are accurately identified and get the help they need. In this way, children can be provided with systematic interventions prior to experiencing chronic reading difficulties.”

In the 2021-2022 school year, more than 20 states including California, Florida, Texas and Connecticut updated their dyslexia legislation, passing new codes and statutes to support more effective identification and intervention practices to address the increasing dyslexia referrals.…Read More

How to ensure digital equity in online testing

The SAT will be moving online for students in the United States beginning in 2024. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam will be taken entirely online next year. Many other states already have fully online tests—and in response to the pandemic, graduate entrance and career certification exams have shifted online as well.

But as more high-stakes exams transition to an all-digital format, experts warn that students who are not as digitally literate as their peers could be placed at a disadvantage. As the trend toward wholly online testing continues, education leaders must consider how to ensure digital equity for the students taking these exams.

A study published in 2019 by Ben Backes and James Cowan from the nonprofit, nonpartisan American Institutes for Research found that students who took the Massachusetts state exam online performed worse, on average, than students of similar abilities who took the same test on paper. The difference was less dramatic for second-time test-takers, suggesting that familiarity with the digital format played a key role in the discrepancy.…Read More

SmarterServices Integrates Calculator Application into SmarterProctoring to Eliminate Distractions, Create Equity, and Promote Academic Integrity

PITTSBURGH, PA – Student success is an utmost priority for SmarterServices, which has led to a recent partnership with ClassCalc to integrate features that eliminate student distraction, create equity, and promote academic integrity. 

ClassCalc is a calculator application that has been most recently integrated into all of the SmarterProctoring Virtual Proctoring modalities. SmarterProctoring provides a flexible and credible way to manage and administer proctored exams with support for face-to-face and online proctoring. It integrates with a variety of different LMS to offer safe and reliable testing experiences for students and teachers. 

With the optional ability to enable the ClassCalc feature in each online exam configuration, instructors and teachers are able to view students on their calculator devices during exams — eliminating distractions and promoting academic integrity by preventing students from looking up answers online. Students are also able to practice with the ClassCalc calculator before starting their assessment, so they are confident in using the application on exams. …Read More

Addressing students’ pandemic ‘learning loss’

A new phrase as a result of the pandemic, “learning loss,” captures the concern that students’ learning has been compromised over the past year and a half. However, before the strategies for addressing the concern can be identified, it’s important to define and articulate what is meant by learning loss.   

The observation is true that many students aren’t at the same place in their subject mastery as similar pre-pandemic students. For example, in North Carolina, where I serve as a Superintendent, a recent report revealed that just 45 percent of public school students could pass state standardized tests, down from 59 percent two years earlier. (Testing was waived for the 2019-2020 school year).  

The question then for many is how do we help these students catch up? That question, however, assumes that the standard by which students were assessed two years earlier is the appropriate assessment tool for students today.  …Read More

Leveraging digital testing to build student confidence

Year after year and in study after study, we see the same thing: Confident students are better students. But, as one student pointed out in a 2019 survey, that confidence is easily shaken.

“I feel like if you do poorly on one test, you kinda get in your mind that maybe this isn’t the subject for you, or you go into the next test feeling less confident. So, then it may influence your academic performance and reflect on your grades.”

And that can only be worse after so many students were forced into remote classrooms. In another survey, this one from 2020, more than 80 percent of students said that the thing they missed most in online learning was being able to see and collaborate with other students and their instructors in person.…Read More

Be prepared: It’s a cliché for a reason

According to Tony Spence, for a district to be ready for everything, it has to constantly be preparing for something. And maybe be a little bit lucky.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Spence, chief information officer at Muskego-Norway School District, details his district’s recent major AV implementation and how it dovetailed with his district’s decision to remain in-person during the COVID crisis.

eSN: When we look back at last spring, it was almost as if a lot of districts were in triage—just making basic connections, getting folks together, and things like state testing were out the window. Are there things from your experience that you think that your district will draw out of that and apply going forward?…Read More

Nureva HDL300 system is now Microsoft Teams certified

Nureva Inc., an innovator in advanced audio conferencing solutions, announces that its Nureva HDL300 audio conferencing system is now certified as a Microsoft Teams Room device. After undergoing Microsoft’s rigorous testing process, the HDL300 system becomes the first microphone and speaker bar to be certified for large meeting spaces up to 15′ x 28′ (4.5 x 8.5 m). Powered by patented Microphone Mist™ technology, the HDL300 system fills a room with 8,192 virtual microphones so in-room participants can move around, maintain physical distance and still be heard clearly by remote participants. Unlike traditional audio conferencing systems for large spaces, there isn’t a need for a DSP, complex installation and calibration of multiple components such as table-top pods and ceiling mics. IT teams can quickly and easily install and set up the HDL300 system in under an hour. The system hangs on a wall with two screws and connects via USB to a computer with Teams software. It calibrates automatically and continuously so the Teams Room is always ready to go – even if it has been reconfigured to accommodate changing uses or distancing protocols.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Teams has become indispensable to a growing number of organizations and education institutions around the globe that have shifted to a hybrid model, where a combination of workers or learners are physically in the same space, alongside those who are remote. Recent data show that daily active Teams users climbed to over 115 million at the end of October, and more than 230,000 education institutions are using Teams for remote and hybrid learning. As those numbers continue to grow, reliable audio conferencing that is easy to implement and manage will continue to be an essential aspect of any IT strategy to support collaboration. The HDL300 provides Teams customers with a new certified device option that is ideally suited to meet this need.

“As the global adoption of Teams continues to grow, so will the need for reliable audio conferencing solutions that deliver performance without complexity,” said Nancy Knowlton, Nureva’s CEO. “We are thrilled that the HDL300 is the first microphone and speaker bar to be certified for Microsoft Teams in large meeting rooms, demonstrating its unique ability to provide full-room microphone coverage from a single device.”…Read More

Are you protecting health data amid COVID-19 testing and tracking?

There’s no point mincing words: School districts and administrators have had a heck of a year. Not only have you been under immense pressure from parents and state officials to reopen schools safely, but your teachers are also understandably concerned about virus transmission. What’s more, your plans keep changing and you’re being forced to adapt.

Related content: How eLearning coaches can support teachers

It’s an uphill battle, and there’s no doubt you’re doing your best. In all the chaos, you’re now responsible for taking temperatures and doing daily COVID-19 screenings, but you may not have had enough time to research screening devices and do sufficient due diligence before welcoming students back through your doors. Unfortunately, making a purchase like this can open you up to risk. Here’s why, and how to mitigate these risks moving forward.…Read More

Riverside Insights Launches Battelle Early Childhood Assessment with Updated Data Validity

Riverside Insights®, a leading developer of research-based assessments that provide insights to help elevate potential, announced today the official launch of the Battelle® Developmental Inventory, 3rd Edition™ (BDI-3™) to customers in the United States and internationally, including Canada and Mexico. The enhancements to the BDI-3 include expanded digital administration and reporting tools, as well as updated standardization and norms. This makes the BDI-3 the most comprehensive early childhood assessment on the market. With this release, Riverside is also the first assessment provider to introduce an affordable subscription model that enables continued enhancements of the testing experience – from administration to reporting.

Recommended in 44 states and listed as a preferred state assessment in 16, the BDI enables early childhood development centers, schools, school psychologists, speech pathologists and private clinicians to obtain early insight into a child’s developmental progress, evaluate readiness for school, and inform eligibility for special education resources. It has consistently been the industry standard for early identification, offering the most comprehensive and up-to-date norms. The BDI-3 measures mastery of developmental milestones and behaviors from birth to age 7 years, 11 months across the five critical domains – communication, social-emotional, adaptive, motor and cognitive – and 13 subdomains.

The third edition has been expanded to include the Battelle Early Academic Survey (BEAS), which measures early foundational literacy and mathematics skills for children aged 3 years, 6 months to 7 years, 11 months.…Read More