We’ve just released an enhancement for students who are retrying missed items.

Why? After hearing feedback that students didn’t see the retry button and accidentally navigated away from the page, we made the retry opportunity more obvious.

What’s the change? Immediately after submitting an activity which allows a retry, students will see the option to retry with very clear buttons — YES or NO. We also state that this is the only chance they have to retry.
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  • The filter and gradebook load separately — previously, the filter and gradebook loaded together, which meant a teacher had to wait for the entire gradebook to load, only to change the filter.
  • The filter is always expanded (no more Filter Grades link).
  • If teachers have any hidden assignments, the message is displayed below the gradebook.
  • More tweaks to the gradebook are coming, but this is a nice start!

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As of today:

  • Benchmark answer keys will have the correct answers bolded and italicized (in some browsers).
  • The following changes have been made to your “Assignments” tab:
    • Group assignments won’t load until you click to expand.
    • Pagination
    • Ability to hide the filter
    • If a filter is set, the Filter Assignments link is formatted.
    • No more “Grades” button; now all buttons say “Results”
    • Settings modal will show if a student has taken an assignment — and if so, they cannot be removed from the assignment.
    • Edit button grays out for a group assignment if there are results.
    • Completed column does not update in real time (every 15 minutes), so there’s a refresh icon to instantly retrieve results.

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Thank you to the more than 5,100 students and teachers who took our March Survey. Our new arcade game, Test Drive is the reigning favorite with students by a large margin!

favorite gamesAre you including games as part of your group assignments? 81% of teachers told us they assign games at least sometimes with their group assignments.  And yes, we heard you: over 86% of you said you would like more games to assign to students.

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Start your engines!  An exciting new game has launched!  Test Drive is now available to play in the game arcade.  Costing four tokens, Test Drive gives students the opportunity to choose one of four characters (Tater Tot, Sasquatch, Naughty Chicken, or Penelope) and race around the track for a chance to finish in first place.  Turbo boosts can be collected along the track for an instant burst of speed.  Watch out for colliding opponents and sharp turns!  This newest game is tablet-friendly and sure to be an instant favorite.

What’s the old way?

Previously, a teacher could edit assignment settings here (multiple attempts, minimum score, retry missed items) at any time, even after students started completing the assignment.

Why was it a problem?

That functionality was plagued by bugs, not to mention some confusion — were all students affected or only students who haven’t completed the assignment yet?  What if the student has one attempt left and the settings are changed?

On top of that, it made troubleshooting much more difficult because what if the teacher changed the settings after the student finished the assignment?  We didn’t keep track of those changes, so there was no way to be certain of the settings at the time when a student completed an assignment.

What’s the change?

We have removed those three settings from the Settings modal.  So, here are the two main changes:

  1. If teachers want to change those settings, they must use the Edit button — but wait…can’t teachers only edit an assignment before any students have completed it?
  2. That is change #2.  Teachers can only edit those three settings if NO students have completed it yet.  That way, we can ensure that all students have the exact same settings.

Where can teachers view their settings?

To view the settings for a specific assignment, click on the assignment title.  We’ve added the selected settings in those details as a reference.

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    • In the past, teachers could select a different start or end date for assignments within a group assignment on USATestprep.
    • We are simplifying the Group Assignment interface:
      • Teachers will select one start date and one end date for the entire group.
      • The date picker tool is more user-friendly with a prettier calendar (updated for single assignments too).
      • We added a message next to the end date to remind reachers that assignments are available to students for 2 months afterwards.
    • If teachers prefer the old system of multiple assignment due dates, they can create multiple single assignments or break up group assignments into smaller chunks.
    • What’s the benefit?
      This change saves time when creating a group assignment and simplifies the interface quite a bit (no more date columns).  Also, the date picker calendar is more user-friendly.
    • What about existing group assignments?
      Nothing will be changed.  The exception is if a teacher adjusts the dates via the Settings modal (they will need to select one start date and one end date for everything), or if they click the Edit button to make changes to their assignment, they’ll have to select one start date and one end date for everything.
    • Existing group assignments will not be affected unless teachers: 
      • Edit the start or end date.
      • Add an additional assignment to the group.

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Tips:

  • How can I view the answer key for a test?
    • This depends:
    • If a benchmark, go to the Benchmarks tab —> Options menu —> Answer Key
      • The answers will be bolded
      • Explanations for all answers are also available
    • If a practice test (small, medium, large, full, or domain test), then those tests are randomly-generated for every student —> NO answer key
    • If a teacher asks how to see the questions the students have, explain that since practice tests, practice questions, and vocabulary are all randomly-generated, there’s no way to preview the exact questions
      • A teacher can certainly go to the Options menu —> Preview to see what the assignment will be like, but the questions will vary each time
      • If a teacher wants the ability to see the exact questions that students will have, then direct him/her to creating a benchmark

New Features:

  • Not exactly a feature, but we’ve added some copy on the login page to help with auto-fill issues

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  • Coming later this month… …Test Drive, a new racing game in your Game Arcade!usatestprep-ambassadors-1
  • “Assignment Submitted” message: 
    • There’s nothing to prevent students from opening a test or benchmark in two different tabs or browsers.  Before this change, students could submit the test in each tab (even if the assignment only allowed 1 attempt), thereby creating confusion and frustration for teachers.  
      • Why do students have multiple results for this benchmark?  
      • Why is the benchmark result in a different column in my gradebook? 
      • How did the benchmark become disconnected from the assignment?  
    • Students can still open and save a test in multiple tabs/ browsers.  BUT, there’s now a check in place upon submitting.  If the test or benchmark has already been submitted and met the number of attempts allowed by the teacher, then they receive the message “Assignment Submitted”

Student Dot Rank Settings

  • On any content area page, students can track their own progress and proficiency.
  • Proficiency is displayed using Dot Rank, our system of green, orange, pink, and grey dots.
  • Students have two options to calculate their Dot Rank scores — best practice question set only or cumulative total of all test, benchmark, and practice questions.
  • New easy toggle at the top of the page makes it easy to switch views.
  • Click on the Dot Rank link to view scoring breakdown for each color dot.
  • Vocabulary, performance tasks, and videos are tracked through the Progress bar.

Watch a video about the Dot Rank settings.

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Did You Know…?

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The token system and game arcade are now live!  If you don’t have an account and would like to preview the token system, go here to signup for a trialHere are the basics for what you need to know. 

FAQs:

Why the change?

We found that students were rushing through game questions just to play the game.  With the new token system, students have more incentive to pay attention to the questions and do their best.  Students earn tokens based on their score and type of activity.  For example, students earn more tokens for a test versus a video.

So, now students can go to the arcade and just play games with no questions?  How is that educational?

Students must earn tokens to play the games; therefore, they must have completed some sort of activity on the site.  For the free play games that cost zero tokens, students have to answer questions within the game.

What is the difference between a game that costs tokens and a free play game?

Free play games have questions built in whereas token games have no questions, just good old fun.

How can students earn tokens?

Students earn tokens by completing practice questions, vocabulary activities, performance tasks, videos, and crossword puzzles.  These activities can either be assigned or independently completed on a student’s test landing page. Some students will start off with tokens.  This is a result of their test landing progress. Students receive a token for each checkmark earned per element. On first page load, it will credit them with those tokens. It will NOT credit them for past individual tokens earned.

Can students earn tokens for benchmarks?

No, students do not earn tokens for benchmarks.

Why can’t I assign a game in a single assignment?

We are transitioning students to go to the arcade to play games as a reward for completing work on the site.  Games can still be assigned through the group assignment system; however, game options are limited there.

Why are group assignment games limited?

Many games have already been transitioned to the arcade system since they no longer have questions built into them.  The group assignment games are single player options that still have questions as part of the game.

What happens to existing assignments with games?

Any existing assignments with games remain exactly the same.  Nothing was changed with existing assignments.

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