USATestprep Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Fall User Meetings: Update

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Attention users in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Indiana: time is running out to register for the USATestprep Fall User Meetings. Remember that these half-day seminars give you in-depth training on USATestprep and are offered on the following dates in the following locations:

10/27:  Tupelo, MS -Bancorp South Arena (9am-1pm) SOLD OUT

10/28:  Cullman, AL – Holiday Inn Express (9am-1pm)

11/3:  Roswell, GA – The Metropolitan Club (9am-1pm)

11/4:  Columbia, SC – Columbia Conference Center (9am-1pm) Hurry: Just FIVE spots left!

11/10:  Raleigh, NC – Prestonwood Country Club (10am-2:30pm)

11/18:  Indianapolis, IN – Marriott Indianapolis Downtown (9am-1pm)

The cost is just $60 and payment can be made by credit card through the link included in your email. You even get an awesome and stylish USATestprep t-shirt.

We hope to see you there!

Quick Tips: Assignments not showing up?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Have you created an assignment but it is not showing up on your students’ Home page? Here are some possible reasons why.

- You’ll want to make sure that the student is part of your class. Click on the Classes tab on your home page, then the  “+ View Students” link next to that class. If you do not see the student in that class, add them by clicking the green “Manage Class” button and following the appropriate steps to add a student.

- Verify the start date of the assignment. You can edit any assignment- that has not yet been started by any students- by clicking the orange “Edit” button from the assignments listed on the Assignments tab. Click the second step- “2 Choose Options”- and look at the Start Date. If that date has not yet occurred it will not show up on students’ Assignment tab. They will only be able to see the assignment when that date is reached.

- Make sure you have chosen students in the third step of the assignment process. Again, choose the Edit option for an Assignment. Then, click the final step- “3 Select Students”- and verify that students have been added to that assignment.

As always, this topic and many others are covered in the  “How To” videos located on your teacher Home page. Lets us know if you have any additional questions!

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Impresses and Improves

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) beat out over 70 schools from around the country to win over a half-million dollars in scholarship money for its high school seniors. The Broad Prize for Urban Education goes annually to the large, urban school district that has shown the most substantial academic gains. The CMS is responsible for over 130,000 students, more than half of whom are African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or American Indian.

The selection jury for the Broad Prize- which consists of seven members, including four past U.S. Secretary of Education- recognized CMS for a number of reasons:

  • Narrowed Ethnic Achievement Gaps
  • Narrowed Ethnic Achievement Gaps Faster
  • Boosted Percentage of Low-Income Students Performing at High Levels
  • Demonstrated College Readiness Levels

To read more about this honor, check out the story from The Christian Science Monitor or the press release from the Broad Prize website.

Congratulations, CMS!

Quick Tips: Making Assignments

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

After you have created classes for your students, you will want to take advantage of our Assignments tab on your teacher Home page. To create an assignment, just click the Assignments tab, then the “Create New Assignment” link.

The first step is to give that assignment a name. Then choose the type of assignment you want to give- Test, Practice, Game, or Video (comprehension questions)- and the appropriate options that go along with each type of assignment.

The second step is to choose a start date and an end date for the assignment. When you choose a start date in the future, please note that the assignment will only show up on for your students when that start date has been reached. Also, once an end date has been reached, students will still be able to see the assignment on their Home page, but they will not be able to complete it. You can also choose whether or not you want students to be allowed to retest missed questions.

The final step is to choose the student you want to take the assignment. You can choose an entire class by simply clicking on the box next to the class name. If you only want specific students to take the assignment, click on the box next to the class name, “Uncheck All,” then select the student who you want to complete the assignment. Then click “Save Assignment,” and you’re all done!

Remember, this topic and many others are covered in the  “How To” videos located on your teacher Home page. Lets us know if you have any additional questions!

New QOTD Features

Friday, September 16th, 2011

We have updated our Question/Vocab/Video/Tip of the Day feature. You will be able to select past “OTD”s up to two weeks. (We have reset the system, so you will be limited in past searches for the next 14 days.)

There are also now statistics after a question or vocabulary term is answered, allowing students to see how they’re doing compared to other users.

We hope you like these new features!

Quick Tips: Creating Classes

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Creating a class is easy and allows you to assign tasks to students. This is how you do it.

  1. From your home page, click “Create New Class” under the “Classes Tab.”
  2. Next, assign your class a name and select which test subject (or more than one) you want to associate with that class. This is VERY important: this will allow your students to select you to receive their test and practice results. When you are through, click “Save Changes” then close the modal window. Your class has been created!

You will need to add students to that class, and there are two ways to do that: you, as the teacher, can do it and students can do it. Here is how a teacher does it:

  1. To add students to that class, click “Manage Class.
  2. Click the green “Add/Remove Students” button on the right of the next page.
  3. You can search for students who have created an account on USATestprep in a few ways. First, you can search by the first letter of their last name (click on the appropriate letter), you can search by typing in their first, last, or full name (click “+ Advanced Search”), or you can choose from the list of recommended students (based on students who have sent you results in the past; this may be blank for you).
  4. Once you have found the appropriate student, click “+ Add”.
  5. If you have already created assignments for that class, you will be given the opportunity to assign them to the new student. You can either choose the box next to the assignment and click the green “Add Assignments” button, or you can click “Continue without adding assignments.”
  6. The student will then appear on the left and will be in your class. Repeat this quick process for each student and you will have your class filled.

Students who have an account can also add themselves to your class. This is how:

  1. From the student home page, click “Classes.”
  2. Click “+ Join a Class.”
  3. The student then must choose the Teacher and Class from the pull-down menu, then click the “Join” button.
  4. The class will now show up in the student’s list of classes…
  5. … and will also show up in your list of students for that class.

Remember, this topic and many others are covered in the  “How To Videos” located on your teacher Home page. Lets us know if you have any additional questions!

New Resources!

Monday, September 12th, 2011

At USATestprep we are constantly working to update and provide new materials. We are happy to announce the addition of the following review products:

  • California US History STAR
  • California World History STAR
  • Florida US History EOC Assessment
  • Louisiana English III EOC
  • New Mexico SBA Science

And we aren’t done yet. Check back for more updates and new products!

In Focus: New Features

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Welcome back to another exciting school year.  We’re starting a new feature on the blog,  In Focus.  Each month, we’ll spotlight something of interest and give you an in-depth exploration on that topic.  This could be based on USATestprep features, subject-specific topics, or educational policy.  This month, our first, focuses on the new features we spent much of the summer modifying and developing – based on the helpful feedback we’ve heard from you in the past.  Hope you enjoy.

Benchmark Testing Changes
Teachers can now flag questions from our database as a “favorite”. You can also author and add your own questions, these will be saved to your own personal folder.  After questions have been identified, it is very easy to go to your personal favorites and add these to any benchmark quiz or test that you create.  One suggestion is to flag questions that were missed by a large number of students from one test.  Discuss them in class.  Then, add the exact same question to a future test.

Instructional Video Enhancements
In addition to adding hundreds of new instructional videos this summer, we have also added comprehension questions to our entire catalog of videos.  Now, students can test their understanding of the videos.  Videos and Comprehension Questions can also be assigned to students.  This is an excellent way to reinforce techniques when the teacher is out of the classroom.

Free Response and Skill Work
One of the most important principles that is coming out of the Common Core Standards is the need for higher order assessment.  At USATestprep, we’ve started addressing this concern by implementing two new features:  Free Response Questions and Skill Work.  Free Response Questions are in-depth application and research questions that assess a student’s deeper understanding on topics.  Skill Work activities are a broad range of exercises that ask students to apply their understanding of a concept to classify, order, or label items properly.  Skill Work is found in the student practice section. Free Response Questions are accessed in the online resources section.  Both of these can be tasked to your students with the assignment system.

Class Management
The new class management system for teachers is similar to a standard grade book.  Teachers are now able to view student and class progress at a glance on concepts and assigned activities.  Teachers will also be able to print reports for students or classes to use for reference or documentation purposes.

All of this is in addition to our standard summer development schedule that includes adding hundreds of new questions and re-aligning for any new standards.  But wait, there’s much more to come this fall.  Keep your eyes on the site for other new additions including improvements to district user features, an enhanced assignment system and a new, and improved, chicken.

Fall User Meetings: Update

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Attention users in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Indiana: by now you should have received information in your in box regarding our 2011 User Meetings. As a reminder, you can receive in-depth training on USATestprep on the following dates in the following locations:

10/27:  Tupelo, MS -Bancorp South Arena (9am-1pm)

10/28:  Cullman, AL – Holiday Inn Express (9am-1pm)

11/3:  Roswell, GA – The Metropolitan Club (9am-1pm)

11/4:  Columbia, SC – Columbia Conference Center (9am-1pm)

11/10:  Raleigh, NC – Prestonwood Country Club (10am-2:30pm)

11/18:  Indianapolis, IN – Marriott Indianapolis Downtown (9am-1pm)

The cost is just $60 and payment can be made by credit card through the link included in your email. And you even get an awesome USATestprep t-shirt!

We hope to see you there!

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