KU News Release

June 20, 2011
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, 785-864-8860

Record number of students take computer-based Kansas assessments

LAWRENCE — The days of bubble sheets seem to be numbered in Kansas.

During the 2010-11 school year, nearly all of Kansas students took high-stakes accountability assessments online as part of the Kansas Assessment Program. The program consists of statewide assessments in math, reading, science and social studies at grades 3 through 12, administered by the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas.

Since Kansas began No Child Left Behind testing in 2006 through Kansas Computerized Assessments, the number of students moving from paper-and-pencil to computer-based testing has steadily increased. In 2006, 65.4 percent of Kansas general and Kansas Assessment of Modified Measures assessments were taken through Kansas Computerized Assessments. Five years later, Kansas has increased that number to a record 99.7 percent.

“We are very fortunate in Kansas to be able to provide computerized assessments and to have such a high percentage of our students participating in state assessments via computer,” said Diane DeBacker, Kansas commissioner of education.

School districts across Kansas have benefited from the move to online testing. Bonnie Williams, testing coordinator for Royal Valley USD 337, has seen nothing but positive results.

“The testing went very well this year,” Williams said. “We didn’t have any problems, and really it’s been that way since we started using it.”

Williams reported that USD 337 takes 100 percent of its tests on the computer and has for some time. She cited ease and efficiency as reasons for the programs’ success but said one of the main reasons involved the students themselves.

“I think the biggest thing about the computer (assessment) is that the kids are so used to using computers. It’s second nature to them,” Williams said.

For this reason, Williams said, all future assessments will be computer-based at her school.

DeBacker sees computer-based testing as beneficial to students and educators.

“Because teachers and schools receive near immediate results from computerized assessments, they’re able to make instructional decisions and adjustments within the same school year,” she said. “The ready access to results that comes with computerized assessment also increases student motivation and engagement.”

George Abel, assistant superintendent and testing coordinator for Emporia USD 253 agreed, finding that his staff could easily make assessment adjustments with the computer-based system. Abel also found the system to be key in accurately gathering information from the district’s 4,500 students.

“There is a lot less potential for inaccuracy with computer assessments,” Abel said. “Sometimes that happens with paper and pencil tests.”

The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation continues to set the pace in computer-based assessment by developing products that integrate testing with teaching. Work on the next-generation assessment system is already under way. This system will incorporate new item types that make use of advances in technology to go beyond traditional multiple-choice items and model good instructional techniques. The center also developed the Kansas Writing Instruction and Evaluation Tool, an online writing environment for student writing that allows teachers to offer educational feedback within the tool itself. The center also offers online training resources, practice tests and tutorials to help prepare educators and students.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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