USATestprep Blog

Archive for October, 2011

Quick Tips: Tests vs. Benchmarks vs. Practice

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

When using the site, you will see terms that may seem similar. Lets focus on the terms Small/Medium/Large/Full Test, Benchmark Test, and Practice.

Small/Medium/Large/Full Test: This refers to the entirety of the state-mandated curriculum for the subject. When a student takes a Small/Medium/Large/Full Test, he/she will see questions from our database from the whole subject. Additionally, the questions, while drawing from the same domains, will vary for each student.

Benchmark Test: This is an assignment that the teacher creates. Teachers can choose to create this based on the entire test, specific domains, or particular elements. This option allows teachers to have more control over which questions appear on the test, as well as add their own questions to the test. It also populates the test with the same questions for each student.

Practice: These are activities that the student can access from the test subject page and that teachers can assign to their students. “Practice” offers many more options than multiple choice. Also, students see their answers immediately after entering their choice in practice. All questions- multiple choice, vocabulary- vary from student to student.

Let us know if you have any additional questions about these types of assignments. You can also find more information about all of these topics in our “How-To Videos” found on your Home page.

Quick Tips: Feedback Button

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

At USATestprep we value teacher feedback. In fact, our features and improvements are based on what our users want and need. If you ever see a question that might need improving, if you experience difficulty in the operation of a video or game, or if you have some general feedback for us, just look for the “Question Feedback” button.

You will find this below completed practice questions, when viewing test results, or when choosing questions for a benchmark test. This feedback is sent to our subject experts who reply within one business day to your concern. Of course, you can use this forum and our Facebook page, as well.

Fall User Meetings: Georgia & Indiana

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Attention users in Georgia 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:

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

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

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!

Check Out These New Features!

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Our primary focus is to provide teachers with the tools needed to effectively instruct their students and manage their classes.  With this goal and recent teacher requests in mind, we are pleased to announce the launch of a number of powerful new tools.  These have been added to your account at no added expense.

MESSAGE SYSTEM

Teachers can now send messages to their students.  Both students and teachers have a new “Messages” tab upon login.  Teachers can send reminders, assignments, and words of encouragement to an individual student or an entire class.

ASSIGNMENT SYSTEM UPGRADE

You can now allow students multiple attempts on an assignment or set a minimum required score.  In addition, student and class data is now at your fingertips to better pinpoint effective assignments.

PROJECTOR MODE QUESTIONS UPGRADE

You can now load previously-created benchmarks into projector mode.  This allows you to build custom question sets for use with multiple classes and to present these sets to the entire class using a computer and projector.

EFFECTIVENESS STUDY

We are pleased to announce the results of a year-long, multi-state effectiveness study performed by an independent educational research firm.  This study evaluated the USATestprep product in math and reading for over 1,100 students in forty classrooms.  The results show that students who use USATestprep experience one half to one year more growth than students who did not use our product.

So let us know what you think of these new features. Thank you for suggesting them, and, as always, let us know what you think.

Quick Tips: Eliminating Answers

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
In our last “Quick Tips” we looked at how to share a benchmark test. Did you know that when you create a benchmark test you can have our system automatically eliminate an incorrect answer? This option can be found in Step 2 of the Benchmark process.

By default, the “Number of Answers per Question” option is set at 4, but you can change this is a simple mouse click. If you choose to have three answers per question, students will then see one incorrect answer eliminated for them.

Additionally, all students can choose to eliminate answers on any test they take. Simply directing the mouse to an answer choice will highlight that choice. To the right of an answer is the “Eliminate” link.

Clicking this will eliminate the answer for the student, which will be represented by the answer being “grayed out” with a line through it. But the answer can easily be reactivated by clicking the “Reactivate” link.

We hope that these option help both teachers and students to improve their scores and reduce test-taking anxieties.

NJAET Conference

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

If you are in New Jersey and plan on attending the NJAET Conference at Georgian Court University, please stop by booth A-6. There could be a free t-shirt in it for you…

New Missouri Resources

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

USATestprep is happy to announce the addition of new resources. We now offer materials for 8th Grade Science in Missouri, and all questions, vocabulary, worksheets, and activities are aligned with the Show-Me Standards.

There’s more to come, too. Check back for more updates and new products!

In Focus: Common Core Standards

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSP) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the goal of the standards it “to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” To date, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the common core standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Implementation timelines vary from state to state, and common assessments are being developed by The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). USATestprep is committed to having Common Core Resources available for your state as implementation goes forward.

The Mathematics Common Core Coalition has been formed by eight organizations. Members of the coalition include: the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the National Governors Association (NGA), The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The coalition “works to provide expertise and advice on issues related to the effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards for School Mathematics (CCSSM)”.

For more information be sure to look at the Common Core Mathematics Initiative website.

Quick Tips: Sharing Benchmark Tests

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Remember, you can share a benchmark with other teachers in your school. This is perfect for department- or school-wide review.

To share a benchmark you simply need to change the “Teacher” option in the first step- “1 Enter Teacher Info”- when you create a benchmark test. Change your name to “Shared Benchmark- Allow Students to Choose” from the drop down menu.

When a benchmark is created with this option in place, any teacher who has chosen that test subject- American History, Algebra, etc.- will be able to have the results of the benchmark sent to them should a student choose. You will know a benchmark is a “shared” benchmark by the red “S” next to the assignment’s name.

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!

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