Ohio Students Discover the Key To Passing Exams
During the 1999-2000 school year, teachers and students at the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development in Southwestern Ohio worked through several sample lessons, filling out assessment sheets for PassKey: A Prescriptive Learning System - a modular diagnostic and prescriptive software program for self-paced instruction in math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Due to these positive evaluations, the decision was made to purchase Glenc'e/McGraw-Hill's software for use in all four of Great Oaks' technical centers. "We felt that PassKey was the best software package we'd seen to help our students with their remediation," says Steve Jackson, vice president of program design development at Great Oaks.
Claire Patterson, manager of testing and assessment at Great Oaks, says teachers particularly liked the pretest feature of the program. "It enabled them to diagnose where the student was missing competencies and allowed them to concentrate on those without wasting time," she says. They also appreciated the class-management tools that made it easy to set up a class roster of students showing what tutorials the individual students needed, she adds. And because of PassKey's broad range of skill and grade levels - covering grade levels 1.6 through college entry - the program could be used by full-time 11th- and 12th-graders at the centers, as well as by the many adult learners attempting to pass the GED exam.
PassKey has been in use at all four career centers, for both high school students and adult learners, since fall 2000. J'e Clements, the teacher in charge of the high school enrichment lab at the Laurel Oaks Career Develop-ment Campus, says that PassKey is instrumental in helping students pass the ninth-grade proficiency test - a prerequisite for graduation. He says that from the teachers' point of view, PassKey is the focal point of the lab, particularly for students trying to eliminate deficiencies in math. Unlike in a regular classroom, it enables teachers to roam from computer to computer, answering individual questions and needs. The system also allows teachers to help more students since they can work with everyone in class simultaneously, answering individual questions and keeping everyone busy.
Peg McVay, a math teacher at Live Oaks, has been using PassKey to help 12th-graders pass the proficiency exam as well. Teachers on her campus set up individual plans for those students based on their performance on the proficiency test. They then matched the individual competency needs with PassKey, allowing those students to concentrate on weak areas. Students began by taking the individual competency tests provided by PassKey, which identified the skills requiring the most work. Both students and teachers say they appreciated the benefits of the self-paced system because it informs the user of how they're doing. With the feedback provided by the system, students were able to progress through the program while accomplishing their specific goals.
Reports from students using PassKey have been positive as well. Students say the program makes it easier for them to study, helping them feel better prepared for tests. Students appreciate getting not only extra help, but also more defined help.
Deborah Meyer, an ABLE (Adult Basic and Literacy Education) instructor at the Scarlet Oaks campus, has had similar successes with the program. Her adult learners are using PassKey for all subject areas in preparation for the GED exam, and they say they enjoyed working with it. Meyer says she found the individualized aspect of PassKey to be a big plus for herself and the students. But Meyer, who d'esn't think she's very computer literate, says the program and its administrative tools are simple to understand and use. Her students have also been pleased with the system's user-friendly features. "[The students] find working on the computer is more enjoyable than using a book and paper," she says. "They feel they can concentrate better and get more out of it." In particular, students appreciated the immediacy of the feedback, the graphics and the practice provided, she says. With PassKey's help, several of Meyer's adult learners were able to pass the GED exam.
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.