|REPORT CARD |
|Overall Rating:||4 Stars|
|Ease of Use:||A|
Company: MindPlay, 440 S. Williams Blvd., Suite 206, Tucson, AZ 85711. Phone: (800) 221-7911; internet: www.mindplay.com.
Price: The pricing is based on format—WAN (wide area network), LAN (local area network), stand-alone computer, or internet-based access. As an example, the cost of a web-based annual subscription starts at $630 for one connection (for use with unlimited students). Volume discounts are available.
Audience: Grades 1–10.
Format: Web- or network-based software.
Minimum System Requirements: The Windows workstation version requires a 1GHz CPU, 1 GB hard drive space, 266 MB RAM, and Windows Millennium or newer.
The Windows server version requires a 1 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, plus 512 MB for every 20 to 30 workstations with a minimum of 1 GB hard drive space.
A server version is required if more than 10 workstations will be using the program at the same time. A nondedicated server requires at least a 2 GHz CPU and 1.5 GB RAM; more may be required, depending on what else is running and how heavily the server is used.
In all cases, a printer and headphones are strongly recommended, and a microphone is useful.
Description: MindPlay’s RAPS 360 is a reading assessment program designed to identify problem areas in all aspects of reading, including phonics, visual and auditory discrimination, word meaning and recognition, fluency, comprehension, eye tracking, and more. Student progress is monitored after a baseline is established by the initial testing. The assessment results can be used to develop learning plans for individuals, groups, or entire classes.
Installation: Installation depends on the format (WAN, LAN, stand-alone, or internet). The LAN and WAN versions require installation by a district technology staffer.
For this review, I used an internet version. The installation involved setting up an account with usernames and passwords.
MindPlay support staff is available for installation assistance. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: RAPS 360 provides a computerized, detailed, basic reading skill assessment that can automatically diagnose student reading skills and problems in 10–30 minutes. The program is useful for creating individualized learning plans, monitoring progress, targeting instruction to improve test scores, grouping students for appropriate tier interventions, and more.
RAPS 360 diagnoses the causes of poor reading comprehension and other reading problems and adjusts testing based on student responses. The program includes diagnostic tests for students reading below grade level, including testing in vocabulary, eye tracking, and encoding. A baseline for each skill area is established for each student so that progress can be measured and reported via comprehensive graphic and tabular reports. The software can be used to set data-driven goals and match timelines to high-stakes testing.
All tests are done at computers. Testing can be customized by grade level or functional ability. The program automatically assigns students to homogeneous groups for intervention.
Students progress at their own individual pace. Take-home support sheets are provided for additional practice. Class progress is reported. Progress tests can be taken throughout the school year; each test begins with clear instructions.
RAPS 360 includes seven assessment tests—the Comprehension Screening Assessment (CSA), Word Meaning and Recognition Assessment, Phonics-Decoding/Encoding Assessment, Eye Tracking Assessment, Natural Fluency Assessment, Expected Fluency Screening, and the Pause-Assisted Fluency Assessment (Reading Connected Text Assessment). These assessments are grouped into two test sets that provide either detailed diagnostics or a quick progress check. Depending on the selected test set and test performance, students may take as few as one assessment or as many as five assessment and diagnostic tests.
The program management is handled separately by the Universal Administration and Reporting Center software (U-ARC). Students do not have access to this part of the program. U-ARC is used with password access by a program administrator or teacher to add teachers, classes, and students to the program. The process is easy and straightforward. The management feature also enables the addition of demographic information and special learning classifications and the assignment of curricular material. All of the information can be edited later as needed.
A wide variety of tabular and/or graphic reports can be generated, depending on the level of use. Student and parent reports include diagnostic summaries with two levels of detail, a student progress report, a "Response to Intervention" report, several decoding reports, and more. Teachers can generate most of these reports for entire classes. In addition, class benchmark reports, improvement reports, and needs reports can be generated. District-level benchmark, improvement, yearly progress, and demographics reporting options are available.
Everything considered, RAPS 360 is an outstanding reading assessment program. Although the software is not intended to be a complete instructional program, some noncomputer instructional resources are provided based on test results. Some additional site-based reading instruction resources would be helpful, however.
Keep in mind that adequate computer access will be needed for the student population using the program. To test an entire school, for example, a computer lab would almost be a necessity. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: RAPS 360 is a large and complicated program. The software is remarkably easy to use with a little bit of work. The program’s features are relatively intuitive for teachers and students. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: Technical support is available via a toll-free telephone number, email, or online. The tech support is free for the first year of use. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: RAPS 360 is most useful where the program’s speed and ease of use can benefit large numbers of students, whether in regular classrooms or with selected students having reading problems of one kind or another. I highly recommend this program for first through tenth grades when adequate computer access enables RAPS 360 to be used to full advantage. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Charles Doe, media specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School.