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WILLOW TESTS NEW TESTING FORMAT
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
Willow Elementary School students are helping to determine the future of state assessment testing .
The schools 26 third-graders completed a pilot program in which they took state assessment tests for reading and math via computer. Willow is one of 14 elementary schools and 14 high schools in Oregon participating in the pilot program involving computers. No other schools in Union or Wallowa counties are involved.
We have emphasized that the students are part of something new. They are excited about it, said Kristy Boyd, a media specialist at Willow.
Boyd has helped administer the tests. Willow third-graders have taken written and computerized versions of the math and reading assessment tests. The questions on all tests were different but covered the same subject matter. The results will be compared by Oregon Department of Education officials. The educators want to determine if students do better or worse on the computerized tests, Boyd said.
The title of the pilot program is Technology Enhanced Student Assessment.
The Willow third-graders took the computerized assessment tests from mid-April through the first week of May.
Willow third-grade teacher Belinda Roberson said it is easier to prepare students to take assessment tests via computer rather than pencil and paper
Roberson said she spends a significant time preparing students to take the written version. This is because students must learn things such how to mark their tests and align their exam booklet with their answer sheet.
Roberson said that relatively little time is needed to show students how to use a computer for their test.
The results of the assessment tests on computer will be available in several weeks. Next year, the results will be available instantly because of an improved program the state will use for such testing.
The instant results will make it easier for teachers to address student needs, Roberson said. Schools do not receive the results of written tests until several months after the tests have been taken.
The department of education will expand its TESA program significantly in 2001-02. Willow Elementary will likely continue to participate in the program, Boyd said.
Next year, students in participating schools will be able to take assessment tests via computer at any time. Presently, written assessment tests can be taken only for about a month.
Roberson welcomes the flexibility that computer testing
We will be able to give children the test when they are ready. Children are not all ready for the test at the same time, Roberson said.
Students next year will be able to take their state assessment tests via computer up to three times. Each test will be different but will cover similar material.
The opportunity to take the test more than once will reduce the pressure that students feel.
In addition to Boyd and Roberson, those who have helped run the pilot program at Willow include reading specialist Phyllis Hart, media assistant Keri Myer, resource room teacher Dennis Young, educational assistant Tina Bowen and Reid Shepard, a student teacher from Eastern Oregon University.
Shepard has helped supervise students while they take the tests in Willows library. He said most third-graders have appeared excited rather than nervous.
They enjoy coming here, Shepard said.
The school district has provided laptop computers to help with the testing.
Boyd is also the media specialist at Island City Elementary School.