Focus on Assessment Tools

It didn't take long, but technology has consumed education. It's hard to imagine a classroom today without a computer or a student that d'esn't have Internet access at home. These changes in education have created exciting, new assessment tools for students and educators to work with that benefit everyone. These tools are making teaching simpler and more rewarding for instructors, because they can now concentrate more on their students' education and not on creating documents. This month's Focus On represents only a handful of the assessment tools that exist for the different areas of education to make the lives of students and educators easier.

Teachers can now assess the reading readiness skills of pre-kindergarten through third-grade students with Renaissance Learning, Inc.'s STAR Early Literacy. This quick and simple computerized assessment tool is a computer-adaptive assessment and database that helps educators identify a student's command of phonemic awareness, phonics, general readiness, graphophonemic knowledge, comprehension, structural analysis and vocabulary skills in approximately 10 minutes. STAR Early Literacy requires minimal tea-cher assistance while a student takes the 25-question assessment. Each test item consists of a combination of audio instructions; on-screen prompts of either text or graphics; and three answer choices containing pictures, letters, words or sentences. To reduce frustration, the questions continually adjust in difficulty based on the student's previous answer. Students also go through a brief mouse-training program and practice test before they begin the actual assessment to ensure their comfort with the program. The comprehensive package is designed to accelerate learning and student achievement in reading, math and writing.

In today's fast-paced society nothing is more important than increasing the communication between teachers and parents. And helping to enhance this home communication, GradeQuick 6 from Jackson Software, Inc. includes new enhancements that enable instructors to track skills, mastery levels, state standards and objectives. This detailed information also enhances GradeQuick's Web reports using Edline, a provider of secure K-12 online solutions. With just a click, teachers can easily post Grade- Quick's customizable reports online so families can view secure, detailed up-to-date information from home. The program allows teachers to communicate important, private messages to parents such as their student's grades, attendance, discipline, homework, calendars and more. The detail of the student's work contained in GradeQuick is also accessible from Jackson SiteReporter.

In addition, GradeQuick gives administrators real-time access to current, detailed school-wide data such as eligibility lists, honor rolls, or attendance counts, as well as up-to-the-minute performances of any student. Its new skills assessments also enhance SiteReporter's customizable reports, which are used as Report Cards in many schools. Other schools use them as Interim Progress Reports and then transfer the GradeQuick data to their Student Information System for their official report cards. And because GradeQuick provides seamless integration with most student information systems, grades or attendance from the program can be used by the administrative software as needed.

Curriculum Associates, Inc.'s TEST READY PLUS Reading Advanced prepares students for taking tests by reviewing key concepts prior to test day. Designed for grades 9-10 and adult students, PLUS Reading Advanced contains reading selections, including stories, informational articles, p'etry, expository passages, classic tales, speeches and biographies. Advanced skills covered include drawing conclusions; making inferences and completing analogies; distinguishing between fact and opinion; and evaluating literary forms. Students can round out their advanced practice with open-ended tasks, such as writing expository and narrative paragraphs. Each lesson also contains multiple-choice questions that test reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Allowing instructors to save time and measure a student's success online, NCS Pearson, Inc.'s eZ.exam software quickly and easily creates and administers online tests with minimal effort, freeing up more time to spend with learners in the classroom. The program requires no programming experience to create a question database, with optional templates available for creating various question types. Question and exam creation is flexible because of the wide range of styles available, including multiple-choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, essay questions, word response, numeric questions, matching/ranking, hot spot, drag-and-drop, matrix and explanation screens. eZ.exam software also allows administrators to organize questions and add from the item bank into topics and subtopics as well as shuffle items for each participant. Administrators can set parameters for tests by defining elements such as time limits, template styles and end-of-test procedures. The test author can also preview the session prior to administration as well as deliver assessments via Microsoft Windows-based PCs, CD-ROM, LAN, Intranet or via the Internet. And though several pre-defined reports are available with eZ.exam - such as participant, survey and gradebook reports - you also have the option of creating customized reports. eZ.exam can be used to deliver exams, quizzes and surveys to learners of all ages.

Instructors can use the software to create and administer practice tests, diagnostic testing and pre-evaluation assessments. Other applications include pre-course skills assessments, end of chapter exams, mid-term and final exams to include remote learners and product knowledge aptitude tests. In addition, eZ.exam comes with several security options, including specific login names and passwords, time windows, and restrictions on the number of times a student can take a test. The software also prevents students from closing the test when using other computer applications or surfing the Web while the assessment is in progress.

Offering a wide range of content and assessment options, CTB/McGraw-Hill has released the newest member to its comprehensive family of assessment tools, TerraNova, The Second Edition - also known as the TerraNova CAT because it's the sixth edition of the California Achievement Tests (CAT). TerraNova CAT presents thematic real-world content and rich graphics with the look and feel of today's instructional materials that reflect educational material and encourage students to do their best. The new series uses multiple measures to ensure reliable assessment of a wide range of skills and proficiency levels in reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The assessment gives teachers targeted information to help enhance classroom instruction and improve student achievement.

CTB's unique scoring process integrates selected-response and open-ended questions to show what students truly know and can do. With TerraNova, users receive useful, understandable information that teachers can present to parents, students, administrators and public officials. TerraNova CAT's decision-making assets include: comprehensive score reports with easy-to-understand graphics, including customized reports directly aligned with your curriculum or standards; reports and data on CD-ROM for easy archiving,data retrieval and report output; observations and general interpretations of test results in reports presenting comprehensive data; and new information packages and options to meet specific decision-making needs.

Teachers and administrators can now plan, assess and report using state or provincial standards with Media-X Systems, Inc.'s eTeacher3 desktop/handheld bundle, which provides an integrated approach to standards-based curriculum planning and assessment. The eT3 bundle includes an intuitive Windows/Mac application combined with an integrated user-friendly Palm OS module (eTeacher3 Mobile). The Palm application allows teachers to assess students using rubrics, checklists, anecdotal comments, marks or levels. It provides daily attendance, built-in e-mail, student demographics, daily note taking and an optional day book module.

The eT3 bundle includes features, such as a rubric-maker; eStandards for developing a custom database of standards; a comment builder for developing reusable anecdotal comments; a standards-based report card maker; an integrated long-range planner; and an achievement browser that visually represents students' achievement of selected standards or strands. The product is also preloaded with a set of generic standards, but teachers can customize it with standards from their own state with separate installers on the CD-ROM.

Scantron Corp. has introduced a new solution using wireless handheld technology called Classroom Wizard - the flagship product for the company's newly formed Education Technologies Division. Classroom Wizard combines Scantron's expertise in testing and assessment with the latest handheld and portable scanning technology to provide educators and students the unique advantages of concurrent learning and evaluation in the classroom. This solution enables teachers to electronically monitor students' comprehension levels while class is in session, allowing for immediate teaching adjustments to ensure that all students get the most from the instruction. Students access tests and quizzes via their handheld devices and beam their responses wirelessly to Scantron's Quiz Wizard application. Answers and scores appear immediately on the teacher's computer; results can also be printed immediately. In addition to scoring objective questions, the new system also enables educators to score short answer, essay and fill-in-the-blank answers, dramatically expanding assessment options.

Classroom Wizard includes Internet-connected, handheld devices for each student, lower-priced desktop scanners for each classroom and an Internet assessment gateway. The classroom's standard Windows-based PC and printer complete the hardware requirements. Scantron's Web-based assessment gateway gives teachers information on using the Classroom Wizard, connecting curriculum to standards, building technology into the curriculum, using assessment resources and teaching strategies, and how other schools are integrating the solution. Educators can also incorporate other Scantron software packages into Classroom Wizard.

-Matthew Miller
mmiller@thejournal.com



Assessment Tools Contact Information

STAR Early Literacy
Renaissance Learning, Inc.
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
(800) 338-4204
www.renlearn.com

GradeQuick 6
Jackson Software, Inc.
Glenc'e, IL
(800) 850-1777
www.jacksoncorp.com

TEST READY PLUS Reading Advanced
Curriculum Associates, Inc.
North Billerica, MA
(800) 225-0248
www.curriculumassociates.com

eZ.exam
NCS Pearson, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN
(800) 447-3269
www.ncspearson.com

TerraNova, The Second Edition
CTB/McGraw-Hill
Monterey, CA
(800) 538-9547
www.ctb.com

eTeacher3
Media-X Systems, Inc.
Ottawa, Ontario
(877) 722-9990
www.media-x.com

Classroom Wizard
Scantron Corp.
Tustin, CA
(800) 722-6876
www.scantron.comIt didn't take long, but technology has consumed education. It's hard to imagine a classroom today without a computer or a student that d'esn't have Internet access at home. These changes in education have created exciting, new assessment tools for students and educators to work with that benefit everyone. These tools are making teaching simpler and more rewarding for instructors, because they can now concentrate more on their students' education and not on creating documents. This month's Focus On represents only a handful of the assessment tools that exist for the different areas of education to make the lives of students and educators easier.

Teachers can now assess the reading readiness skills of pre-kindergarten through third-grade students with Renaissance Learning, Inc.'s STAR Early Literacy. This quick and simple computerized assessment tool is a computer-adaptive assessment and database that helps educators identify a student's command of phonemic awareness, phonics, general readiness, graphophonemic knowledge, comprehension, structural analysis and vocabulary skills in approximately 10 minutes. STAR Early Literacy requires minimal tea-cher assistance while a student takes the 25-question assessment. Each test item consists of a combination of audio instructions; on-screen prompts of either text or graphics; and three answer choices containing pictures, letters, words or sentences. To reduce frustration, the questions continually adjust in difficulty based on the student's previous answer. Students also go through a brief mouse-training program and practice test before they begin the actual assessment to ensure their comfort with the program. The comprehensive package is designed to accelerate learning and student achievement in reading, math and writing.

In today's fast-paced society nothing is more important than increasing the communication between teachers and parents. And helping to enhance this home communication, GradeQuick 6 from Jackson Software, Inc. includes new enhancements that enable instructors to track skills, mastery levels, state standards and objectives. This detailed information also enhances GradeQuick's Web reports using Edline, a provider of secure K-12 online solutions. With just a click, teachers can easily post Grade- Quick's customizable reports online so families can view secure, detailed up-to-date information from home. The program allows teachers to communicate important, private messages to parents such as their student's grades, attendance, discipline, homework, calendars and more. The detail of the student's work contained in GradeQuick is also accessible from Jackson SiteReporter.

In addition, GradeQuick gives administrators real-time access to current, detailed school-wide data such as eligibility lists, honor rolls, or attendance counts, as well as up-to-the-minute performances of any student. Its new skills assessments also enhance SiteReporter's customizable reports, which are used as Report Cards in many schools. Other schools use them as Interim Progress Reports and then transfer the GradeQuick data to their Student Information System for their official report cards. And because GradeQuick provides seamless integration with most student information systems, grades or attendance from the program can be used by the administrative software as needed.

Curriculum Associates, Inc.'s TEST READY PLUS Read-ing Advanced prepares students for taking tests by reviewing key concepts prior to test day. Designed for grades 9-10 and adult students, PLUS Reading Advanced contains reading selections, including stories, informational articles, p'etry, expository passages, classic tales, speeches and biographies. Advanced skills covered include drawing conclusions; making inferences and completing analogies; distinguishing between fact and opinion; and evaluating literary forms. Students can round out their advanced practice with open-ended tasks, such as writing expository and narrative paragraphs. Each lesson also contains multiple-choice questions that test reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Allowing instructors to save time and measure a student's success online, NCS Pearson, Inc.'s eZ.exam software quickly and easily creates and administers online tests with minimal effort, freeing up more time to spend with learners in the classroom. The program requires no programming experience to create a question database, with optional templates available for creating various question types. Question and exam creation is flexible because of the wide range of styles available, including multiple-choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, essay questions, word response, numeric questions, matching/ranking, hot spot, drag-and-drop, matrix and explanation screens. eZ.exam software also allows administrators to organize questions and add from the item bank into topics and subtopics as well as shuffle items for each participant. Administrators can set parameters for tests by defining elements such as time limits, template styles and end-of-test procedures. The test author can also preview the session prior to administration as well as deliver assessments via Microsoft Windows-based PCs, CD-ROM, LAN, Intranet or via the Internet. And though several pre-defined reports are available with eZ.exam - such as participant, survey and gradebook reports - you also have the option of creating customized reports. eZ.exam can be used to deliver exams, quizzes and surveys to learners of all ages.

Instructors can use the software to create and administer practice tests, diagnostic testing and pre-evaluation assessments. Other applications include pre-course skills assessments, end of chapter exams, mid-term and final exams to include remote learners and product knowledge aptitude tests. In addition, eZ.exam comes with several security options, including specific login names and passwords, time windows, and restrictions on the number of times a student can take a test. The software also prevents students from closing the test when using other computer applications or surfing the Web while the assessment is in progress.

Offering a wide range of content and assessment options, CTB/McGraw-Hill has released the newest member to its comprehensive family of assessment tools, TerraNova, The Second Edition - also known as the TerraNova CAT because it's the sixth edition of the California Achievement Tests (CAT). TerraNova CAT presents thematic real-world content and rich graphics with the look and feel of today's instructional materials that reflect educational material and encourage students to do their best. The new series uses multiple measures to ensure reliable assessment of a wide range of skills and proficiency levels in reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The assessment gives teachers targeted information to help enhance classroom instruction and improve student achievement.

CTB's unique scoring process integrates selected-response and open-ended questions to show what students truly know and can do. With TerraNova, users receive useful, understandable information that teachers can present to parents, students, administrators and public officials. TerraNova CAT's decision-making assets include: comprehensive score reports with easy-to-understand graphics, including customized reports directly aligned with your curriculum or standards; reports and data on CD-ROM for easy archiving,data retrieval and report output; observations and general interpretations of test results in reports presenting comprehensive data; and new information packages and options to meet specific decision-making needs.

Teachers and administrators can now plan, assess and report using state or provincial standards with Media-X Systems, Inc.'s eTeacher3 desktop/handheld bundle, which provides an integrated approach to standards-based curriculum planning and assessment. The eT3 bundle includes an intuitive Windows/Mac application combined with an integrated user-friendly Palm OS module (eTeacher3 Mobile). The Palm application allows teachers to assess students using rubrics, checklists, anecdotal comments, marks or levels. It provides daily attendance, built-in e-mail, student demographics, daily note taking and an optional day book module.

The eT3 bundle includes feat- ures, such as a rubric-maker; eStandards for developing a custom database of standards; a comment builder for developing reusable anecdotal comments; a standards-based report card maker; an integrated long-range planner; and an achievement browser that visually represents students' achievement of selected standards or strands. The product is also preloaded with a set of generic standards, but teachers can customize it with standards from their own state with separate installers on the CD-ROM.

Scantron Corp. has introduced a new solution using wireless handheld technology called Classroom Wizard - the flagship product for the company's newly formed Education Technologies Division. Classroom Wizard combines Scantron's expertise in testing and assessment with the latest handheld and portable scanning technology to provide educators and students the unique advantages of concurrent learning and evaluation in the classroom. This solution enables teachers to electronically monitor students' comprehension levels while class is in session, allowing for immediate teaching adjustments to ensure that all students get the most from the instruction. Students access tests and quizzes via their handheld devices and beam their responses wirelessly to Scantron's Quiz Wizard application. Answers and scores appear immediately on the teacher's computer; results can also be printed immediately. In addition to scoring objective questions, the new system also enables educators to score short answer, essay and fill-in-the-blank answers, dramatically expanding assessment options.

Classroom Wizard includes Internet-connected, handheld devices for each student, lower-priced desktop scanners for each classroom and an Internet assessment gateway. The classroom's standard Windows-based PC and printer complete the hardware requirements. Scantron's Web-based assessment gateway gives teachers information on using the Classroom Wizard, connecting curriculum to standards, building technology into the curriculum, using assessment resources and teaching strategies, and how other schools are integrating the solution. Educators can also incorporate other Scantron software packages into Classroom Wizard.

-Matthew Miller
mmiller@thejournal.com



X@XOpenTag002Assessment ToolsX@XOpenTag001X@XOpenTag000 Contact Information

X@XCloseTag000X@XCloseTag001X@XCloseTag002

STAR Early Literacy
Renaissance Learning, Inc.
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
(800) 338-4204
www.renlearn.com

GradeQuick 6
Jackson Software, Inc.
Glenc'e, IL
(800) 850-1777
www.jacksoncorp.com

TEST READY PLUS Reading Advanced
Curriculum Associates, Inc.
North Billerica, MA
(800) 225-0248
www.curriculumassociates.com

eZ.exam
NCS Pearson, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN
(800) 447-3269
www.ncspearson.com

TerraNova, The Second Edition
CTB/McGraw-Hill
Monterey, CA
(800) 538-9547
www.ctb.com

eTeacher3
Media-X Systems, Inc.
Ottawa, Ontario
(877) 722-9990
www.media-x.com

Classroom Wizard
Scantron Corp.
Tustin, CA
(800) 722-6876
www.scantron.com

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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