Thursday, April 19, 2007

MSA Science Pilot

Today was the first day that we administered the Science MSA exam on the computer. Pearson is once again the vendor and the interface is familiar to me. Overall I think it's a good assessment delivery system. My role was to help facilitate the morning session and possibly the afternoon session. Like all MSA test, we had to read the 'script' verbatim which actually caused some problems because the directions in the test examiner's book were not exactly like what was shown on the screen. A few students were confused but I was able to get them quickly back on track.

The students were able to take the test without any questions which was very good since one concern was how students would perform when typing BCR or ECR in the boxes. Apparently, this group didn't have that issue. I'll be asking the other examiners if they noticed students struggling to complete the keyed in responses. There was a lot of anxieties about the Science MSA that I feel are unfounded now that I have seen the test. First, the technology required to complete the test is not too restrictive, although my school is very fortunate in that regard. When I attended the Test Coordinator's meeting, the technology services representatives assured us that all computers in the school system met the requirements to run the test. Our science teachers were very concerned about the performance of the students on the test - of course. As I circulated, I saw some very tough questions. I am not very familiar with the science curriculum so I don't know how well the questions were aligned with the curriculum. I do know that the questions presented a good challenge for the students and I believe that this test will ensure the teaching standards of the science curriculum will only improve. I've seen that with Math and Reading because they are assessed. After all what is measured is tested, right?

Hopefully with more emphasis on Science testing, the science department will want to work together using Exam View to administer formative tests and analyze the data to see how the students are progressing. That is a great use of technology for improving achievement. It's also part of my vision plan.

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