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New Requirements Mandate Online Testing
posted by: Alix | October 03, 2011, 07:27 PM   

In the wake of the cheating scandals in high profile school districts like Atlanta, education experts are calling for a shift from paper and pencil testing, toward online and electronic assessments for students across all grade levels. In an effort to incorporate more technology into classrooms, the move is designed to combat cheating, increase efficiency, and phase out bubble testing for all standardized state assessments.

In Indiana, one of the country's reform leaders, a new mandate is requiring online testing for two grades per school across school districts statewide. Following the release of a memo from the State Board of Education last week, the online requirement must be fulfilled by this coming spring during an already busy year in implementing key education reforms.

When one Indiana parent, Paula Shupe's children aren't playing sports or involved in countless other extracurricular activities, chances are they are engaged in some sort of online activity, which is why she is in favor of ISTEP testing doing the same. "The kids are being computer orientated with almost everything now," said Schupe. "I think it's a good way to track their scores."

However, not all school administrators are sold on the short timeline. "We think taking ISTEP online is an advantage for our kids because they're used to it," said Beech Grove Superintendent Dr. Paul Kaiser. Though Kaiser favors the state tests moving from paper to online, he indicated other school leaders are concerned about the new state mandate and the spring deadline.

While many schools are feeling the pinch of budget shortfalls, getting every classroom and student equipped with the tools necessary will be a struggle. "I mean, if they don't have that accessibility to the items then there will be an issue for our children," Schupe said. "I think that's probably one of the highest priorities is making sure our schools have everything that they need."

The shift in Indiana is just the latest in a series of states moving toward an online testing requirement. A spokesperson for the Department of Education indicated that last year a goal was set to begin online testing for at least on grade level per year. The move will allow teachers to get nearly instant feedback and change lesson plans based on need.

What do you think about online testing? Is it a realistic alternative?
Comment below.

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