At our beginning of the school year in-service, I had to view an online blood-borne pathogens presentation that lasted about 30 minutes. I was given a sheet of instructions and told to use my classroom computer. I logged in using a school district username and password and then created my own account. When the presentation was over, I had to answer five questions. I was instantly told if an answer was right or wrong and was given an explanation for the answer either way.
During the process, I completed two forms of online assessment. The first was for the district so it could assess and keep track of the number of teachers who actually took the class and completed it. The second assessed how well I understood what I had read in the presentation. That was probably for the district as well, but it was also a form of self-assessment and part of the learning experience. I missed one of the questions and the feedback taught me a little more.
This first-time, in-district experience illustrates the growing use and varieties of online assessment. Online or Web-based assessments are growing in number and variety, including everything from simple assessments such as the one described above to complex knowledge, personality, progress, and placement tests used by education institutions at all levels, as well as businesses and the military.
The amazing growth in the number and use of Web-based assessments is being spurred by their enormous advantages. Scoring and reporting is nearly instantaneous; results are available to teachers and administrators soon after test completion. Student feedback also can be nearly instantaneous and part of the learning process when the assessment is used as part of ongoing instruction.
With assessments included in instructional sequences, feedback and reporting options can tailor instruction to the needs of a large number of students quickly and easily. Computer-based curriculum with Web-based assessment can make a teacher's life a lot easier in trying to meet the needs of diverse student populations.
With the emphasis on accountability and standards-based reform, test scores are now used in more situations. Paper and pencil tests, which tend to be mostly multiple choice, limit the types of questions that can be asked and the kinds of skills that can be measured. Testing with computers and the Internet makes new types of questions possible, especially those involving complex problem solving and those in which students generate their own answers.
This article takes a look at a number of K-12 Web-based assessments. The goal is to provide examples and to discuss as many different types of quality assessments as possible. This is not an attempt to review every such program available to today's educators.
Most K-12 assessment is intended to affect or measure curriculum in one way or another. The assessment instruments mentioned below are sold independently of curriculum, to be used with a school district's existing curriculum. Some programs are designed for use with specific subjects and some are intended to measure progress against state or school objectives.
This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview, Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.