Oregon takes testing online

Oregon is moving the testing of students at elementary and high schools

onto the Internet, something it hopes will boost overall student achievement.

Beginning this month, about 6,000 third- through 10th-grade students

in about 30 schools will take their annual mathematics and reading tests

online. Another 300 schools are scheduled to be brought into the program

next year, and another 400 will be added the year after. Eventually, all

of the 1,200 or so Oregon schools will have the capability to conduct online

tests.

Online testing is expected to save Oregon up to $25 million over the

10-year program. About half of that will be from savings in the printing

and distribution of paper tests.

But the biggest gain will come in the speed with which the results of

tests can be returned to students and teachers, said Bob Olsen, team leader

of the Technology Enhanced Student Assessment (TESA) program.

"With the current paper-based tests, it can take several months for

the results to be returned, and by that time they are out-of-date," he said.

"You can discern broad trends from them, but they play no meaningful role

in helping schools and teachers to plan instruction for individual students."

With online tests, the results can be made available immediately to

students if they want them, Olsen said. For teachers, the results instantly

show where potential problems exist so that instructional remedies can be

designed.

Eventually, Olsen said, the system could be used to decipher problem

areas in real time from broad "large-grain" tests and from more finely detailed

questions posed to detect the possible reasons for those broad problems.

"As long as we do our job well, that kind of seamless diagnostic testing

should be possible," Olsen said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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