Focus on Administration and Assessment
As any educator knows, what happens in the classroom is only a part of the big
As any educator knows, what happens in the classroom is only a part of the big picture. In order to facilitate the best possible learning experience for their students, teachers and administrators must keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes. Also, proper assessment of student progress is becoming increasingly important, both to better understand student progress and to live up to ever-tougher state and national standards.
In this months Focus On, we take a look at a number of administrative and assessment titles and services to help simplify these difficult and often time-consuming tasks. First up are a few helpful administrative titles.
Designed to meet the needs of large groups of teachers while remaining intuitive and easy-to-use, Excelsiors Gradebook 2 is a complete electronic grade book solution for teachers and schools. A diverse selection of detailed classroom and individual reports simplifies the job of analyzing class performance and communicating student progress. The program has the ability to combine standards tracking with traditional grading. Detailed period level attendance, class discipline, seating charts with student photographs, and lesson plans are all included.
Grade creation wizards step instructors through the description and weighting process. With predefined templates and customizable terminology (quarters, terms, semesters, etc.) the program gives teachers full control of how scores are averaged, totaled, weighted and combined. No limits exist for the number of grades, categories of grades, terms, periods, intervals or other divisions within a class file. Multiple subjects are also easy to manage, with each subject becoming a grade book within a grade book, sharing the same student demographics, but combining the results in a single report.
About Learnings 4Mation 2.0 is a simple and powerful tool for merging curriculum and instruction. Teachers and administrators can create and share standards-based units, link lessons to curriculum standards, and design instruction to address the different ways students learn. It comes pre-loaded with state curriculum standards that can be viewed by subject, grade level, strand and benchmark. As new units are created, they can be automatically linked to standards.
The program includes a lesson plan creation and editing tool, an electronic template for lesson design and a database of unit plans for sharing and exchanging instructional strategies. The lesson planning template is based on the 4MAT System, which states that effective instruction is best viewed as a cycle of learning that consists of personal meaning, conceptual understanding, student practice/experimentation, and student adaptation and creation.
A number of new tools help streamline the lesson planning process. There are lesson links for launching external Web sites and internal hard disk files. A lesson wizard provides step-by-step guidance in lesson development. Also included are advanced scrolling features and a built-in spell-checker.
AbleSofts Teachers Toolbox 3.0 provides multiple administrative tools for teachers. It can be used to record grades and attendance, and to create seating charts and class schedules. Lesson plans can be input into weekly planners and stored on disk or printed out. Users can also design tests for any subject and store them in the database. Also featured is a click-and-go interface to the Internet, where you can access valuable teacher materials from AbleSofts Web site.
The program is completely flexible and customizable to the specific needs of a teacher or school. It can track grades on a semester, trimester or quarter basis, and each marking period can be broken into tests, quizzes, homework, or any other category. Teachers can use their own grading system, whether it be letter grades, number grades, or even checks and plusses. Files can be imported and exported between Windows and Mac computers, for full portability between home and school.
Grading is made simple by a feature that lets you establish a weighting system for your grades. For instance, you can set homework at 10%, quizzes at 15%, tests at 50% and the final exam at 25%. The program can create a standard grade table and instantly convert between number and letter grades. It can also automatically curve grades or drop the lowest scores.
The Center for Pediatric Research, a joint program of Childrens Hospital of the Kings Daughters and Eastern Medical School, has created a comprehensive, integrated software system that allows the documentation of individual student health status and school health services via the Internet. The system, called Welligent, allows schools to electronically track and bill for reimbursable health services and provides information resources to assist school administrators in making sound policy decisions.
Designed in modules to accommodate the different needs of various school health staff, the flexibility of the system makes it equally suitable for use in a single school, in an entire school district or in a statewide multi-district program. Specialized, secure databases include modules for school clinic operations, administrative reports, health management administration, and billing and special education programs.
SchoolCom from Jackson Software implements class management software on a school-wide basis. With this program, classroom data gets to the school office, the district, and even the home. Used in tandem with Jacksons GradeQuick gradebook and classroom management software, SchoolCom provides instant access to all school data. Effective transfer of student information between teachers and administrators facilitates detailed analysis of student performance.
A client/server, open architecture system offers a series of software modules that lets a school introduce new technology in stages. New elements can be brought in as the schools hardware or budget allows. Additionally, Jackson works with the school to enhance the student information system, or to design a completely new solution.
Chancerys eClass Grades helps educators focus on each students unique needs by simplifying grade management, making it easier to analyze student performance and to streamline the flow of meaningful assessment information to students, parents and administrators. Its intuitive design allows users to calculate and display the information they want, based on the grading method they choose. It can record grades, analyze class trends, evaluate individual student performance, and communicate with students, parents and administrators using professional reports, charts and graphs.
By automating many tedious grade-tracking tasks, the program saves educators time, allowing them to spend more time with their students. Grading standards, comment libraries and class lists can be set up by the school office and provided to each teacher on disk or over a network. Calculations of student grades are also performed automatically. Grade information and reports can then be viewed onscreen, printed in a wide variety of formats for students and parents, or supplied to administrators in the school electronically.
It is becoming clear that communication between teachers, administrators, parents and students is key to maximizing the learning process. To help coordinate this tangle of contacts and correspondence, Power On Software offers Now Up-to-Date & Contact version 3.8, which is now compatible with Mac OS 7, 8 and 9. The program offers ease of use and great speed, even on older Mac hardware. It functions well in stand-alone and in multi-user environments. Server-based architecture permits multiple users, even in remote locations, via TCP/IP connection.
Teachers or administrators can track communication with parents, guardians or students by maintaining complete contact histories of phone calls, correspondence, completed items, and notes. An AutoType function cuts down on data entry by automatically entering names, addresses or any other data. Built-in mail merge eases the handling of large contact lists, and all e-mail messages are automatically logged. Search and sort functions are very comprehensive and easy to use.
The software also features automatic synchronization of files between different computers, including PowerBooks and desktops. Complete printing and word processing capabilities are built-in, with incredible flexibility and customization options for printing labels, envelopes, letters, faxes and all popular calendar formats. You can also publish schedules and contacts to the Web to share with anyone, even someone not using the program.
More and more, student assessment is finding its way to the Web. Following are a few Web services to help with the ever-important task of marking and communicating student progress.
Edutest offers three online assessment programs operating on the class, school and district levels. EduTest@class is a tool designed for individual classroom assessment. Teachers can give up to 150 tests in a school year and get immediate results and reporting, classified by objective and/or by student. Tests are offered as grade level tests and skill sets in the following subjects: English, math, history and science for grades 2-8, Algebra I, geometry and Algebra II.
EduTest@school allows schools to test and assess their students against state standards. Reports provide immediate information about students strengths and weaknesses by school, class, student or objective. Grade-level tests and skill sets are available for English, math, history and science, as well as for Algebra I & II and geometry (for grades 2-8).
At the most comprehensive level, EduTest@school-plus provides districts with the ability to assess its students against state standards. Administrators can schedule tests and teachers can give fixed or customized tests, grade-level tests or skill sets with immediate feedback. Results can be compiled across a district, school or class, and progress can be charted by student, at class and at objective levels. Tests written against each states individual standards of learning are available in English, math, history, science (grades 2-8), geometry and Algebra I & II.
ClearLearning.coms Test Pilot can be used to create and administer surveys, tests and assessments over the Web or over your schools intranet. It administers the assessment, records each students submission, automatically scores those submissions, provides customized feedback and offers easy analysis of student response data.
With no programming involved, Test Pilot helps educators save time by grading many of their assessments. Student achievement can also be increased with the immediate feedback provided. Online assessments, surveys and tutorials are designed to be retrieved and displayed using most common Internet browsers like Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer.
As impressive as online assessment can be, some still like to infuse it with good old-fashioned in-class testing. The final product in our Focus On helps you do both and blend them together nicely.
ParSYSTEM 3.0 from Scantron Corp. boasts an online feature that gives educators, trainers and instructors the ability to administer tests directly from their desktop. The ParSYSTEM suite includes ParTEST, ParSCORE and ParTEST Online. Together, these tools give educators the option of administering tests electronically or in print, while placing the test results back in the same database.
ParTEST Online imports ParTEST files and launches them on a local area network. The new version can produce interactive testing and training instruments by supporting a long list of multimedia and graphic file formats. All tests are password protected for maximum security. Once questions are created and classified, users can drag and drop questions and import graphics and multimedia objects into a testing environment. In addition to supporting true or false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching and essay-formatted questions, ParTEST delivers a large amount of statistical information for each question scored.
ParSCORE automatically scores tests with a ScanMark optical mark read (OMR) scanner. With this hardware and software combination, educators can quickly and easily score test results in minutes. Additional features like grade book flexibility, individual performance tracking and multiple reporting features add to the programs robust performance.
Excelsior Software, Inc.
About Learning, Inc.
Teachers Toolbox 3.0
Center for Pediatric Research
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Now Up-to-Date & Contact version 3.8
Power On Software, Inc.
This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.