Assessment Testing: In Their Hands
T.H.E. Journal Volume 33, Number 7, ISSN 0192-592X
At the Orange County Public School District in Orlando, Florida, assessing reading skills among the youngest students used to be quite a process. Relying on rudimentary products such as paper and pencils, the strategy hinged on the bubble sheets teachers administered to students once a year. After teachers scored the exams, they sent them to the district office, where results were scanned, analyzed, and combined to form summary reports. These reports gave teachers information about which students needed extra help, and which subjects were proving to be troublesome. Because the reports took weeks to generate, it was difficult for teachers to use them to better serve the needs of their students. Everything changed with the implementation of a three-year pilot program that kicked off the 2003-2004 school year. District officials, eager to improve their assessment techniques, turned to Wireless Generation (www.wirelessgeneration.com) to find a way to assess students so that teachers could actually do something with their data. Change came in the form of Palm handheld device (www.palm.com). Teachers used them to record student performance on a series of questions designed to gauge reading skills. Orange County is not the first district to recognize the benefits of handheld-based formative assessment in grades K-3, when students are too young to take tests, and teachers assess them through observation. Across the country, other trailblazing school districts are getting in on the action too, downsizing assessment efforts into the palms of teachers' hands. This new trend in assessment mixes software with portable hardware in a way that makes evaluating student skills unobtrusive and easy. In this article, the author discusses how handheld devices have empowered teachers with assessment data that they can put to immediate use.
Milner, J. (2006). Assessment Testing: In Their Hands. T.H.E. Journal, 33(7), 30-36.