Let's Talk Assessments
Elizabeth Hulbert is the mathematics coordinator for Barre Supervisory Union. In this role, she implements and oversees the mathematics curriculum, models effective instruction, facilitates the development of local mathematics assessments, and coordinates professional development.
This spring Barre Supervisory Union students in grades 3-8 participated in the SBAC Field Test. As a district we were very concerned about the technology demands related to the test. A number of years ago we installed Promethean Boards in all classrooms, and while this has enhanced instructional opportunities within the classroom, it has actually decreased the amount of time students have their hands on keyboards. A benefit to this challenge was that we purchased a number of ChromeBook carts and now our student to computer ratio has greatly improved. We were able to plan far enough ahead so that students had time to use the technology they would be testing on, and become familiar with the format. This seems like something that helped students and teachers.
We are a large district, with as many as one hundred students per grade level in each of our elementary schools. The number of computers available at any one time would make it very difficult to accommodate a schedule that did not significantly impact instruction for long periods of time. We did a few things to address this concern. First of all we purchased a number of new Chromebook carts. This allowed us to increase the number of students who could test at one time. Between desktops, laptops, Chromebooks and IPads, we were able to test all students from one grade at one time. We were also able to set up a schedule that allowed us to test as many as three grade levels in a day without disrupting the other grade levels in the school or regularly scheduled classes for other grade levels. Teachers shared responsibility for moving carts of laptops and Chromebooks between classrooms and after the first day of a new testing group, the technology component went relatively smoothly.
Despite our concerns, students rose to the challenge, seeming to put their best effort forward, and in fact, highly motivated by the computerized format of the test. For the most part students across all grades responded that they preferred this format to the old paper version of the NECAP assessment. Overall I would say that we identified the challenges and are taking some steps to address the issues so they aren’t issues for us next year. We feel lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in the SBAC Field Test just for that reason. Teachers, students and our tech support staff all worked hard to make our Field Test experience a meaningful one and one that we could learn from.
On a final note, as the person who has been responsible for organizing and managing the NECAP testing, the SBAC assessment was a gift. The computerized format of the test made it a significantly easier assessment to facilitate and it took far less time to organize. I did not stick one label, count one test, or dig through one recycle bin for missing tests!
Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014