There have been lots of changes to state Standards of Learning testing in the past few years. Here are a few of the changes:
- Since 2013, all SOL tests have shown an increase in the rigor required. Questions include more multi-step problems or problems which require a higher level of thinking.
- In 2016-2017, the online grades 3-8 mathematics SOL tests and online grades 3-5 reading SOL tests will be administered as computer adaptive tests. A Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is an assessment that is customized for every student. How a student responds to a question determines the difficulty of the next item. A correct response leads to a more difficult test item, while an incorrect resonse results in the selection of a less difficult item for the student.
- Technology-Enhanced Items. All subjects now include non-multiple choice test items. These require students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some require students to enter an answer directly; others require, for example, students to construct on-line graphs or order items.
- New method of test delivery. Beginning in 2017, students can take online SOL tests on iPads. Previously testing had been limited to computers and laptops.
- Retakes of SOL tests when students almost pass. For years, high school students have had the option of taking end-of-course assessments again after remediation. Now this has been extended to all students, grades 3-8. Students must score in the 375-400 range to be eligible for re-takes and parental approval is required.
Thanks to a recent arrangement with Smart, Inc. all students in the Teacher Education Program can download and install on their personal computers Smart Notebook V15. TEP faculty can provide students with the activation code they need in order to download and use this license from http://smarttech.com. Any students who need additional directions or this access code can contact me.
For a decade now, teachers have had easy and free access to Smart’s Notebook software as long as their school owned one or more SmartBoards. Indeed, here at Bridgewater we’ve given students directions on how to download to their own personal computers the Notebook software since BC does own several SmartBoards.
Recently, though, Smart changed its policy. Now only Version 11 can be freely downloaded by BC students though the newest version of Notebook software is V14. Worse yet, there are some new computers, such as the new Macintosh computers which have Yosemite operating system on them, which can’t run Notebook V11.
Bridgewater is exploring the option of purchasing a site license for Notebook V14. Unlike the previous versions, though, it won’t be free and will even include an annual fee. We’ll keep you informed on the progress of this. In the meantime, if you need to create a Smartboard file with Notebook software, use one of the computers in the Flory 3rd floor lab. These computers can open V11.
Many area school divisions are embracing GAFE – Google Apps For Education. The sharing features of Google Drive make it ideal to use in a middle/high school environment. Plus, Google has now released Google Classroom which handles many of the user and document issues like those of classroom management systems like Moodle. The price is right–it’s all free.
With this in mind, many of us here at BC are increasing our use of Google apps. Drs. Martin and Carr use Google Classroom with their classes. Our EDUC 412 course has been using a shared Google Drive folder every day in our class. The combination of Moodle and Google has been a powerful one. The entire course has been delivered paperless. We’re experimenting now with the best way to share videos which are taken of students’ mini-lessons.