Whether out of necessity, preference, or a mixture of the two, digital education and assessment tools are rapidly gaining popularity across the board. In particular, digital assessment software has come into the spotlight as 2020 has left instructors teaching and testing their students in a remote learning environment. In K12 education, a student’s numerical test score, such as 10/15 or 90%, doesn’t always accurately reflect their mastery of a subject.
To garner valuable insights into learning outcomes such as how well students understand, retain and apply new information through remote courses, many educators turn towards emerging digital assessment tools and technologies. These relatively novel tools enable students and teachers alike to succeed in new, unprecedented learning environments.
In this blog, we’ll highlight some real-world applications of these new tools that speak to the promising future of digital assessment technology.
Distance Learning Tools
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, educators and students alike have been forced to adopt new distanced learning tools and methodologies. We’ve seen everything from simple pre-recorded lectures to virtual, interactive science labs employed across all levels of education worldwide. As some students and teachers thrive, others may struggle to adapt.
Despite the mixed reviews on distance learning, it’s likely here to stay. This significant adjustment in our education system has presented new challenges, but it’s also made certain aspects of student learning, like regular testing, more feasible.
Before coronavirus, Georgia’s governor announced plans to cut state-mandated “high stakes” tests and encouraged school districts to work with the state’s education agency to reduce local testing across K-12 education. Like many state and federal authorities, Governor Kemp believed his state’s public education system tested too much and that rigorous, high-pressure exams were simply unrealistic for students. Furthermore, if students struggle to ‘stay afloat’ and cram for exams at the end of each semester, teachers won’t get an accurate measure of what they do or don’t know.
Digital assessments allow for more frequent testing, a crucial part of measuring student knowledge and comprehension in a remote or hybrid environment. Teachers can implement online testing without scrambling to find a proctor or setting aside huge chunks of class time. For students, online testing is a lower stress, self-paced alternative to its in-person counterpart.
To understand how well their students are learning, whether in the classroom or at home, teachers must continuously analyze testing methods and scoring measures to define each assessment’s value. Rather than scoring students on their ability to memorize facts or regurgitate information, educators want to assess how well they can retain and apply new concepts through critical thinking.
However, to effectively measure student performance, teachers need more than traditional pencil-and-paper tests. This is where agile, adaptive digital testing tools come into play.
Computer-adaptive testing (CAT), also known as “tailored testing,” measures a student’s performance by literally adapting itself to each of their responses. As each CAT test progresses, the next item or set of items administered depends on how the test taker answered the previous question. This allows teachers to test students on their actual knowledge of a subject instead of their short- or long-term memorization skills or use of ‘tricks’ that may help them score high on a paper test without really learning new concepts or materials.
Along with adaptive tools, several states across the US, including Georgia, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina, are moving towards adaptive learning measurement under the federal Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority. As learning expectations develop, these states offer more frequent, adaptive assessments to create a summative, year-end student learning score that factors in elements besides the class average or each student’s letter grade.
In the same way that adaptive tests adjust based on student performance during an exam, formative assessments (FAs) help teachers adjust during the learning process by modifying activities and curriculum to improve student attainment.
Over 80% of America’s public schools already use FAs to improve student outcomes, but eLearning has strengthened the push to re-assess and adjust learning techniques and activities once again.
For example, in North Carolina, nearly half a million elementary students can access a formative-diagnostic-assessment system from Amplify, supporting the state’s commitment to helping all students read by the 3rd grade.
“The great thing about it is that you can look at those K-3 scores and see that they align well with how the students do on the [state] end-of-grade exams at the end of 3rd grade,” said North Carolina’s director of K3 literacy, Carolyn Guthrie.
Digital Assessment software tools like Amplify offer DIBELS, or Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, a rudimentary assessment for early reading intervention, or Text Reading and Comprehension (TRC), to measure how well students apply foundational skills as they read a passage. During the assessment, the teacher listens and records the student’s reading. They can use their findings, and other data in Amplify’s tools to generates immediate performance reports and action plans.
Digital assessment technology empowers schools and their students to succeed in new, unprecedented learning environments. TAO Testing supports an innovative, completely customizable approach to online learning on any scale. Want to learn more? Contact us today to discuss the future of your school.