Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:57AM - 84 Views

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LIMA — A colorful pie chart appears on the screen, inviting pupils to create their own colonies, figuring out how best to allocate their resources. On another test question, pictures of state senators appear with information hinting to whether they belong in the North or South. Pupils drag the pictures to the appropriate spots.This is the future of state testing: All online, more colorful, more interactive, more fun.“No more hand cramps,” Lima West Middle School eighth-grader Denzel Stephenson said last week after taking an online state social studies test that mimics what all pupils will take in the future. Several school districts in the region took part in the Ohio Department of Education's Online Assessment Pilot. The program allowed school officials and pupils to see how online assessments might work when the state implements the Common Core Student Standards in the 2014-15 school year. All testing will be online.“I am very excited,” said West teacher and social studies curriculum team leader Jeremy Clark. “I was a little nervous at first in setting it up, as far as making sure I was doing it right. But once I did it once, I was very comfortable after that.”Only eighth-graders participated in the pilot program. West tested 32 pupils. Shawnee schools tested 160 and it went well for teachers and pupils, said Amber Straub, director of development and assessment. She expects a few more challenges when testing more pupils.“When you have a larger number of students testing and a larger number of people giving the test, there are more opportunities to have issues or concerns,” she said. Some of those issues, Straub said, includes power surges or pupils mistakenly hitting a wrong button and something unexpectedly happening to a computer.“When the test is real, there is a lot of anxiety about testing anyhow,” she said. Access to enough technology could be an issue for some schools, officials said. Straub said the state has said schools will have a window of time to get all pupils tested, which should alleviate the issue. One plus is getting tests results back quicker. Clark said multiple choice results will be immediate and constructive response questions within two weeks. Results can take six weeks today. Pupils taking the pilot received feedback immediately.“ I think it will be incentive to the students to see how they are doing,” Straub said. Multiple choice and constructed response questions, Clark said, are very similar to the current test except taken on the computer. Testing is done on a secure browser, so pupils are not able to navigate off the test onto the Internet. Clark suspects teachers will be a little nervous at first, but said the user guide is helpful and the test setup pretty simple. He said even the youngest of pupils will pick up on it quickly. He said the test finally brings education into the 21st century.“I love the technologically enhanced pieces with the real-world simulations, the dragging and clicking boxes and highlighting ideas,” Clark said. “It really showcases the rigor of the new standards and our kids can definitely meet the rigor.”Pupils seemed to like the new test, throwing out words like “fun,” not normally heard when talking about taking a test. “It was fun to not have to write something for once,” West eighth-grader Toriyanna McGraw said. “I think it is going to be better. For me, I just hate writing. It takes to long.”Denzel liked getting away from all the “black and white” of the traditional paper-pencil tests.“It is just more simpler,” he said. “You don't have to do all of this flipping paper and moving stuff around to make room to write.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.

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