Oregon takes testing online
- By Brian Robinson
- Apr 17, 2001
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
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the results to be returned, and by that time they are out-of-date," he said.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
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.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.