Pilot testing program gets trial run

JOHNSTOWN – Seven school districts will help test a new system for taking tests, according to Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Education.

The Greater Johnstown, Broadalbin-Perth Central, Fonda-Fultonville Central, Mayfield Central, Lake Pleasant Center, Wheelerville Central and Wells Central school districts will all have students take English language arts exams on a pilot computer-based testing platform this year, according to a news release from HFM.

New York is taking its first official steps into statewide, computer-based testing for students in grades third through eighth in English and math. The field tests will be available on laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, PCs and Macs and administered between May 23 and June 10.

According to HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel, SED invited all New York schools to participate in the spring trial.

“Computer-based testing has been discussed for a while, and this trial gives school administrators, teachers, students and state officials a chance to see what it looks like in the real world,” Michel said in a news release.

The SED memo said districts will have the option of offering online testing for the actual state exams in 2016-17, and both computer and paper state exams will be offered through 2020.

“Transitioning to computer-based testing is a gradual process to allow schools to ramp up their technology and work out any issues in administering these tests,” Michel said in the release. “In the end, this could be an answer to many of the issues vexing our testing program.”

At least seven HFM BOCES districts will pilot the computer-based tests. Johnstown superintendent Robert DeLilli said his eighth grade students would use CBT, while eighth graders in Wheelerville and Wells would be tested digitally in math. Broadalbin-Perth, Fonda-Fultonville, Mayfield and Lake Pleasant also said they would take part in the testing trial.

According to the news release, SED Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said the move promises to improve test delivery, test integrity, scoring validity, and turn-around time while maintaining the state’s commitment to meeting the needs of 21st century learners.

According to the SED question sample page, test accommodations will be preselected by a teacher or administrator in accordance with a students learning needs.

The test results will not affect student grades or factor into accountability ratings for districts, schools or teachers. The tests are being given to help ensure questions used in future state exams are appropriate and fair for all students. According to SED, students names, ages and results will not be tracked.

To see sample questions about for the testing go to: www.nysed.gov/edtech/schools/question-sampler.

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