Tests are taken by third- through eighth-graders with a focus on state standards for English and math. High school students in Algebra I, Algebra II, Reading I, or Reading II are issued state standard tests throughout the semester.
“Teachers were skeptical at first, because it took time out of their lesson plans,” said Michael Kahrs, supervisor of data management. “They definitely like how we created the tests at a district level. The results show them easily where they need to reteach, so they are not having to figure that out.”
A standardized state test, called TCAP, is given at the end of each year for children in grades 3-8. High school students in specific courses receive their standardized test, called End of Course, at the end of a semester. Elementary students take six of the practice tests throughout the year. High schoolers take three tests throughout the course of a semester before their EOC.
These tests are designed with specific standards in mind. Teachers prepare lessons with the state standards in mind. The computerized tests give immediate results. Teachers can see how their students scored, which questions were missed, and how their scores compare to the district.
“The students like it because they are getting an immediate score. When they take the test, right when they finish it pops up a score,” Kahrs said. “They can log on anywhere to see their results.”
Each test focuses on different standards. There is no way to tell if a student is getting better from one test to the next. Teachers can reassign the test after offering a review of missed questions. Kahrs said most teachers will make their own quiz from the material in questions versus their students taking the entire test again.
Time committed to assessments differs depending on the grade level. Elementary students take two 20-minute tests over English and math. Middle school students have two 45 minutes tests for the same subjects. High school students have one hour to complete an Algebra I, Algebra II, Reading I, or Reading II test. A student in high school could potentially take two of these courses during one semester. The student would then have two tests to take.
“If a teacher has covered the exact material in the assessment, and they want to use it as a graded test, then they have the right to,” Kahrs said.
SchoolNet is a program offered as a part of Pearson’s Instructional Improvement System. The program is currently only being used as a testing network. The primary users are currently teachers, school administration members, and students. Parents can log on through their student’s account. Account information can be received through the student or their school.
Eventually, SchoolNet will hold everything in one spot.
“We are going to use it to funnel every type of communication. Right now, it is just an assessment and student accounts,” Kahrs said. “Long term, we are going to make it so parents can see everything about their students. Basically everything in one spot: calendars, attendance, transcripts, schedules, grades — basically their students’ personal record.”
Kahrs said city schools are looking to have the parent portal opened by next fall. They will then be able to see everything their children can see.