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Carlsbad schools expects testing to go without a hitch [Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M. :: ]
[March 02, 2014]

Carlsbad schools expects testing to go without a hitch [Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M. :: ]

(Carlsbad Current-Argus (NM) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 02--CARLSBAD -- The long disputed state mandated Standards Based Assessment test will be issued electronically to over 3,600 students district wide beginning March.

The SBA came under heat when principles in several districts informed Public Education Department officials that students were not meeting graduation requirements based on testing results.

The district will test 3,659 students in the first weeks of March, utilizing over 1,000 computers district wide, a year ahead of the state mandate to switch to the electronic version of the assessment according to Carol McAlister, facilitator of testing and data.

In a months long effort by the district's technology department, 14 new labs were installed district-wide to administer the electronic version of the SBA. The district tested the new system Tuesday, primarily to ensure that it could handle the volume of usage necessary. A test that McAlister said was successful.

"We were extremely impressed because it was a huge success and all students were able to log in successfully." McAlister said. "We had, truthfully, very minimal issues and those we did have we were able to address." The Standards based assessment test, a test which has been receiving varied criticisms state-wide, is scheduled to be executed March 3 through march 21, though McAlister said that testing time on the new system will not vary from past year's paper version.

"The students are not going to see any difference in their testing time," McAlister said. "What we had allotted for each of the sessions -- whether it be paper or computer based -- the time allotted is the same. The platform is just changing from paper to computer." Third and Sixth graders will test the first week of March, fourth and seventh the second week and fifth, eighth, and high school students will test the third week. A makeup period for students is scheduled the final week in March, with the exception of Juniors who will be taking the paper version.

Despite a promising run of the system, administrators are prepared with contingency plans for issues with technology or time restrictions. Tests are not timed but students who exceed the suggested 60 minute testing periods can be moved to another terminal to complete testing while allowing other students to move on. Scenarios which teachers and staff are prepared to handle.

"We've had extensive training all over the district for the proctoring," McAlister said, "Every teacher has been set up as a proctor and has received training on how to manage that software." McAlister said the hours spent on testing result in valuable information for teachers and parents, who are able to utilize the testing information to work with students in meeting common core requirements. Parents receive reports on their child's strength and weaknesses.

"There are four reporting categories and based on the scale score students are given a designation of being in a beginning, nearing, proficient or advanced setting. That information is utilized at various levels." Every student will be tested in reading and mathematics, but testing in science and writing varies by grade. Each student will spend an approximate 9 hours on the Standards Based Assessment test.

The computer based testing is expected to yield faster results and has according to McAlister resulted in a lower costs for the district. Each test runs about $28.

"Another advantage for the computer based assessment is that we will be able to get our results sooner than we were able to get them in the past," McAlister said. "Switching over to a computer based software is cheaper. They (PED) provided the discount to all district across the board and made it the same cost as paper based testing." According to McAlister, the district was able to save money by eliminating some printing and shipping costs.

Reporter Jessica Onsurez may be reached at (575)491-4682.

___ (c)2014 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) Visit the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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