Having trouble keeping track of individual student or class scores on the ever-increasing variety of assessments? The recently opened SoftChalk ScoreCenter tabulates and consolidates all scores from SoftChalk and can put it into the gradebook. It works with Blackboard Learning System 9.0 and 9.1, and can show a test’s first attempt, last attempt, highest attempt or average. It’s available now, just register.
For good or bad, which college students get into is dependent almost entirely on their SAT scores. We all know that some students – and adults – have problems remembering things, particularly when it comes to tests. LearnLift’s MemoryLifter Learning Suite: Prep for the SAT is at the confluence of those two trends with a programmed approach to the test that can help kids master the SAT material without too much pain or wasted effort.
Using current psychological research and digital flashcards, MemoryLifter works with a student’s long-term memory so that the information stays with them, regardless of whether it’s about homophones or statistics. The Prep for the SAT system uses modules, including ones for Math, Critical Reading, Irregular Verbs, Vocabulary and Writing, which review the basic elements needed for success.
The software comes with a helpful video that explains the different elements and how to use them, but the focus of the course is the included 3,600 multimedia flash cards. The kit includes a printed study guide and audio books of the vocabulary that the test requires.
Along the way, there are plenty of quizzes and at the end of each session the software tabulates how you did and how much time it took. A nifty graph can show visually how well the student is progressing on the material.
All the SAT Prep modules together sells for $50 and students can get individual ones for between $15 and $30 each. I love that it’s all on a USB memory key so it can go anywhere and help students who are short on time in the library, an Internet café or at home late at night. Just plug it into any computer and start mastering the material.
My only qualm about the system is that it might better be distributed without the physicality and expense of the box and memory key in a Web-based online course where kids log on, do their work and then move on to other things. Other than that, I can think of no better way to get ready for the SAT test.
We all know that wading through a pile of student assessment results can not only numb and otherwise active teacher’s mind, but can provide a misleading view of what a class, school or its individuals are capable of. We have to test to provide feedback for students, parents and administrators but Meg Litts, Professional Development Specialist at Minnesota’s Onamia Public Schools has found a better way to interpret and distribute the data.
For the past year her district has been using Pearson’s Perspective to provide accurate data on students and makes reporting this information to parents much easier. The good news is that rather than a complex program that needs to be installed on computers, Perspective is Web-based so that any recent computer with an Internet connection can just log on to use the program.
As a result, none of the district’s computers or those used by parents to check on their child’s progress needed to be upgraded. Just make sure that it does have the most recent version of Adobe’s Flash player installed. “That’s a huge benefit because it relieves much of the stress of using technology for families and teachers alike,” explains Litts.
Even better, the program doesn’t require any specialized training other than familiarizing parents, teachers and district paraprofessionals with what Perspective is capable of. To get parents up to speed, the district, which has about 750 students in rural central Minnesota, sent a letter home about Perspective with some simple how-to instructions on getting started. Beyond that, the program has an informative built-in Flash-based tutorial that shows how to get the most out of the program.
Key to Perspective’s usefulness is the Learning Locator, which puts together specific curriculum materials based on assessment results. For Litts and the Onamia school district, it works well because the locator is aligned with Minnesota’s Academic Standards. “This is a great way to differentiate within and outside the classroom,” observes Litts.
The Onamia Public Schools uses Pearson’s assessment exams as well, although Perspective works just as well with a variety of tests from other providers. The district uses Perspective to create an annual Learning Locator number for each student in math and reading.
Perspective and Learning Locator is not an end to itself or a substitute for classroom work. In fact, Litts, thinks it helps teachers identify at-need students and tailor a growth plan for each of them. “Perspective is not a tool to replace teacher instruction and assessment,” she adds, “it is a fantastic resource to enhance teacher instruction and assessment.”
The latest from FETC is Learning.com’s assessment tool that’s aimed at gauging the skills of 5th and 8th graders. Called 21st Century Skills Assessment, the software is based on all 24 ISTE NETS-S 2007 standards for decision making, critical thinking, creativity and research. All its results are a psychometrically validated blend of interactive, performance-based questions that allow students to perform tasks in simulated applications, and multiple choice, knowledge-based questions. The program can prepare individual, class, school or district level reports on performance. The company is at booth 101.
The College Board is readying a new standardized test for eighth graders to assess their development towards college level skills and abilities. Called ReadiStep, the test can help teachers and administrators evaluate students for proficiency and make sure they’re on the right track for college. The pencil-and-paper test has three sections: reading comprehension, writing and math and is based on the standards in the English Language Arts and Mathematics College Board Standards for College Success. The test will be available for its first use next fall.
Teachers: Turn in your grade books because GradeLink’s online service can automate the tedious and error-prone process of turning individual scores into a semester’s grade. Because it’s Web based, there’s neither hardware nor software that needs to be installed and it won’t take up valuable server space. Teachers can record letter or numerical grades, add extra credit, drop lowest grade and then have the program compile the semester’s report cards. On top of comprehensive school or district reports, GradeLink can let parents know about grades and attendance in either English or Spanish. The online service runs from $708 for up to 50 students per year to $3,708 for up to 1,000 students; a free trial is available.
It’s spring assessment time! I know -- those words make all of our skin crawl a bit, and wading through the quagmire of assessment tools can be tricky since it’s hardly one size fit all. But, if you’re shopping for a resource that helps kids get the classics, you might check out Pearson’s Perspective, a remediation tool that’s been around for a while and has added high school Literature Teachers Guides from its imprints like the Penguin Group. The product also now includes the APerspective blog, which has news, hints and tips on using Perspective.
Bottom line: The new Literature Teachers Guides introduce students to work from classics like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare within the Perspective framework, which includes built-in assessment tools.
Council of Administrators of Special Education Re-Endorses Spectrum K12 School Solutions’ Encore Special Education Software Product
Many products are touted as “special education” thanks to added bells or whistles that make the products eligible for special ed funding. To help schools recognize those special needs products that stand out from the pack, The Council of Administrators of Special Education offers official endorsements. One recent recipient is Spectrum K12’s Encore Special Education product. Originally endorsed in 2005, CASE just re-endorsed the product, making it the first product to be re-endorsed by CASE.
Bottom Line: “With Encore, Spectrum K12 sets a new benchmark in special education IEP software,” said Luann Purcell, Ed.D., CASE executive director. Encore helps districts eliminate compliance issues, reduce paperwork, and support individual education program goals.
Special education has been described as “the monster in the closet,” and it’s certainly an issue most administrators need to address. K12 Systems, a provider of administrative software solutions, now offers the Sapphire Special Education Software/IEP Writer. This web-based special education software is specifically designed for special education programs. The product includes the following modules: referral, eligibility, IEP processing, 504 documentation, caseload management, and Medicaid reimbursement, with multiple levels of security within each application.
Bottom Line: The Sapphire Special Education Software/IEP Writer gives educators tools to manage IEPs and the overall special education process. As IEP data is entered, compliance requirements are automatically verified to help ensure paperwork is completed accurately and on time.