Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SBAC Follow Up

Thanks for the overwhelming responses.  This subject fascinates me and it seems like it struck a nerve with a lot of people.  I'm going to attempt to divided this into 3 parts: (1) Testing on computers, (2) The test itself, and (3) student/teacher responses.

Intuition is sometimes good and sometimes bad.  I had a feeling students would treat the SBAC test like the Khan Academy.  My thoughts were confirmed as my students worked through the test.  Many asked why they couldn't "see if they were correct" like other tests they've taken on a computer.    Most spent 2 minutes on a problem, even though the problem should have taken 5 minutes, and moved on.  After about 10 minutes, students started clicking answers so they could move on to the next question (which is the only way to move on), to find "easier" questions.  I was surprised to see that their attention span and determination was significantly less on a computer than a paper and pencil test.

Another interesting thing, is how difficult is was to monitor students.  The computers are lined-up next to each with only maybe a foot between them in two rows.  I was surprised how easy it was for a student to look at someone else's computer screen.  I'm not sure if I was supposed to help students with the graphing tool or equation editor, but I did anyway.  This is where SBAC will make some serious money, because students will have to be proficient using the equation editor, graphing tool, calculator, and regression tools before they take the test or the will lose valuable time trying to figure it out.  The practice test will, of course, cost $$$.

An example of the problem with the equation editor is that it is not intuitive.  Students had to write a polynomial say 9x^2 + 5x + 1, they entered the "9" then pressed the box for exponents, the "9" turned blue, they after many tries, we figured out that we had to right arrow so the "9" was black instead of blue, then type the rest of the equation.  I wonder if full credit would be given for 9x^2 + 5x + 1 instead of the equation editor look.

This leads me to my last part tonight about using computers.  There were many instances like the last example where an answer could be given in different forms.  How is this scored?  Are computers capable of distinguishing between "root 45" and "3 times root 5" as acceptable answers?  What if a student wrote in words instead of numbers?  Again, this will be a money maker because it will force districts to buy the practice materials.

There are more technological issues, but my brain needs some rest.

Remember this: We are all in the same boat, we can chose to sink or find a way to make it float.

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