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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:41 AM

Online testing debacle in Wyoming provides a warning to other states

Technical problems erupted as soon as Wyoming switched to online testing in 2010. Students were unable to submit their tests after spending hours taking them. At times the questions wouldn’t load on the screen. And ultimately the scores were deemed unreliable.

“We had so many poor kids who had to take the test again,” said Gordon Knopp, technology director of Laramie County School District No. 1, the largest school district in Wyoming.

Online testing was such a debacle that voters threw the state superintendent of education out of office and the state sued Pearson, the company hired to administer the test. (The state reached a $5 million settlement with Pearson, but the outgoing governor decided not to sign it and obligate his successor to the deal.) The state went back to old-fashioned paper, which it still uses.

Wyoming decided to be a trailblazer because the state already had a solid Internet infrastructure. Some schools were streaming videos and had shifted their phone systems online. Trial runs at practice test sites went smoothly. Jim McBride, the former superintendent, said he was hopeful that online tests would soon deliver timely results that could be used to improve classroom instruction.


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Reply Online testing debacle in Wyoming provides a warning to other states (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2012 OP
Swede Atlanta Jun 2012 #1
exboyfil Jun 2012 #2

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 12:15 PM

1. This reminds me of a problem when I took the Georgia Bar Exam......


The exam was conducted across two days; one day for the multi-state which is multiple choice and one day that was all writing.

My handwriting is terrible so I opted for the laptop option where they lock out any file or reference access, giving you just access to an abbreviated version of Word and the exam questions. You were given a thumb drive to save you work to.

I had purchased a new laptop for the exam, having worn out my laptop during law school. I had no problem saving my answers.

But there was a student not far from me that got to the very last "sprint" of questions and her laptop would not write out to the memory stick. She was given the choice of either submitting her exam with no answers to the last two questions or to forfeit the entire exam. This is where relying on technology for some things is very risky.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 12:49 PM

2. My daughter is taking college chemistry

this summer and part of her homework is an online system. Needless to say entering chemical formulas, scientific notation, etc is cumbersome on the computer. The software is also down for a period of time each week (not good for a college student). Also if it is not set up right by the teacher work can be lost (this happened to my daughter but she wanted to go through the questions anyway in anticipaiton of a test - she knew the system had a problem).

Often machine scored tests are just plain stupid (my daughter answered Consumer Price Index on an Economics question and got it wrong - the answer was Price Index).

Optical scan technology has worked for a long time. For mutliple choice it should still be the default choice (just like voting you have a paper trail). My daughter screen captures anytime she is uncertain to prove she answered the questions (or to address poorly worded questions).

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