Farmington R-7 School District has been using USATestprep at varied grade levels for more than 5 years. We were thrilled (doing the happy dance), when they wrote us a letter telling us the five things they love about our standards-aligned solutions based platform.

5 Reasons We Love Using USATestprep

  1. The items in each database are rigorous and there are various types, including selected response (MC), short answer, free response, and various types of technology-enhanced questions. Read More»

Dr. Christine Jax joins one of the nation’s leading providers of curriculum and assessment solutions with the goal of increasing student learning and standardized test scores for diverse student populations and giving teachers back their Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Dr. Christine Jax

Dr. Christine Jax

Atlanta, GA – March 12, 2019 – Dr. Christine Jax, former Commissioner of Education for the State of Minnesota, has joined USATestprep as the company’s Chief Academic Officer. With more than thirty years of experience in education and standards-based learning and assessment, Jax is tasked with the goal of expanding the company’s presence into more states beyond the Southeast.

Since 1998, USATestprep has provided resources for teachers to help prepare their students for high-stakes testing with content that is specifically aligned to each state’s learning standards. The company’s solutions are delivered via an online platform enabling teachers to access up-to-date content across all core subject areas, to customize the learning pathway for each student, and to provide insights through benchmarking to administrators. USATestprep was developed for teachers, by teachers, and is currently used by nearly 2 million students across more than 3,500 schools nationwide.

“I’ve worked in almost every level and aspect of education, and I am amazed by all USATestprep offers,” said Jax. “USATestprep started out helping teachers and kids succeed on high-stakes tests, but as the company has worked with teachers it has successfully evolved into a comprehensive teaching platform serving kids in grades 3-12 with everything from homework, assessments, and remediation to bell ringers, lesson-planning, and so much more.”

Under Jax, the company will increase its investments in product and content development as it rolls out in new states. Jax notes that her goal is to help teachers nationwide reclaim their free time, and improve classroom instruction at the same time. Read More»

What is Convergent and Divergent Thinking?

Convergent and divergent thinking are valuable tools in the classroom, but the concept didn’t start in the classroom. It started in the discipline of psychology.

The terms convergent and divergent thinking came from American psychologist JP Guilford in the 1950s. Guilford’s theory of the structure of human intellect identified three factors of intelligence that help define a person’s overall intellectual ability. The three factors (or dimensions) of intelligence are operations, content, and products.

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Hands-on experiences are one of the best ways to learn more, make great memories and gather new information. This is a list of free activities and field trip locations in Texas, from great works of art to the great outdoors! If you’re a teacher, tutor or a parent looking for free educational opportunities for your curious crew, or to give your students a break from STAAR and TSI test practice, check out one of these free field trip destinations around Texas.

Please note that large groups sometimes require advance reservations; be sure to contact the organization you’re interested in directly for more information.

Select the City

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While there are many traditional methods of communication that are used in schools and will continue to be used for years to come, there are also new means to speak with students that are proving to be effective. While nothing will ever quite match a teacher standing in front of the students and delivering a lecture or explaining something patiently, emails are now a common tool for distributing messages and queries; and text messages are beginning to prove popular too. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that most students are pretty regularly attached to their phones and are very comfortable talking over text. This means they receive the message and comprehend it, rather than being daunted by wordy emails or formal language. The following show how text messaging is an effective way to communicate with your students.

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What we learn in each grade can differ across states. To guarantee that all schools in the same state meet certain requirements, there are academic standards. In the state of Indiana, the Indiana State Board of Education has created and implemented the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) for grade 10.

Requirement for Graduation

The ISTEP+ exams are so important for consistency across the state that the Indiana Department of Education has made the passing of the Grade 10 ISTEP+ in English/Language Arts and Mathematics a requirement for those graduating in 2019 and on. Of course, there are additional requirements that can be used in place of this, but the ISTEP+ exams are possibly the least complicated option.

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In 2013, the state of Texas recognized that too many of its college students were not academically ready for college-level classes. In an effort to address this problem, the State Education Department introduced the Texas Success Initiative (TSI).  Evaluating the areas of reading, writing, and math, the TSI gives prospective colleges an idea of how academically successful you might be. Based on performance, a student might be placed in either a traditional college course or a course with assistance to improve certain skills. To help students complete 

college and earn a degree, the state of Texas has invested many of its resources into assisting college advisors to place students in the courses where they will be most successful.  Since the competition for jobs upon graduation is intense, the TSI enables students to be better prepared with the skills needed to pursue a career. So, how do you prepare for the TSI?

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It is tough to get into college these days. With stiff competition from thousands of applicants, one place to set yourself apart is during your interview. Not all colleges require (or even offer) an interview component to their application process, but many do, so check the school’s website or contact the admission office to find out if interviews are offered and how to schedule one. Interviews may be conducted by an admissions officer or a representative of the school, such as a current student or a graduate, who has agreed to help interview candidates to see if they are a good fit for the school. Interviews may be conducted in person or by phone or video.

There are literally hundreds of interview questions that colleges might ask of their applicants. It is impossible to prepare for all the questions you might face, but it is easy to practice and prepare for some of the most common ones. There is actually a lot of psychology that goes into the types of questions admission officers ask and what they are looking for in your responses. Remember that what you say is sometimes just as important as what you don’t say, and your body language speaks to the audience as well. By knowing the types of questions admission boards may ask you and understanding what they are really looking for when they ask these questions (or any number of their variants), you can be prepared with some solid and impressive answers to wow your interviewer! This strategy works great for the best online schools and traditional campuses as well.

 General Interview Tips:

    • Don’t be nervous. Yeah, yeah, easier said than done. And admissions officers or their representatives understand that nerves are natural and to be expected. But try to keep them under control. Take deep breaths, maintain eye contact, and try to stay calm. Remember that questions don’t need an immediate answer – it’s okay to pause (briefly), gather your thoughts, and formulate an answer. If you don’t understand the question or aren’t sure what they are looking for in your answer, ask for clarification or for them to reword the question, or repeat it in your own words to make sure you’ve understood what they are asking.
    • It’s a conversation, not an audition – really! The purpose of the interview in a college application is twofold: It allows the admissions officer an opportunity to get to know who you are and to gauge whether you will be a good fit for their school, but it is also an opportunity for you to ensure that the school will meet your needs and expectations. If you go in with a “script” and are playing a part you think will impress them, the interview will come across as stiff, and they may misunderstand or misread the real you. Really listen to what the interviewer is asking, give yourself a moment to compose yourself and your answer, and then give it your best and most honest response. Definitely, have some talking points tucked away, but don’t be afraid to answer “off the cuff” with whatever comes to mind at the time – filtered for audience and purpose, of course. It’s also okay to admit you don’t know or aren’t sure but talk through your reasoning a little bit so they can see your thought process at work.
    • Honesty is the best policy. Being honest is the best way to be impressive – don’t tell the panel what you think they want to hear. Speak the truth, from your heart, to ensure that the panel gets to understand the “real” you and can assess how you will fit in on their campus and can appreciate the contributions you can make to their campus community. Be creative and show your personality, but don’t lie or pretend to be someone you’re really not.
  • Ask questions of your questioner. One of the easiest ways to show a school’s representative that you are interested in attending is by having a few questions prepared that you can ask at the end of your interview. They will usually conclude by asking if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to have one or two to show that you have done your research on this school and you are eager to learn more about specific aspects of it. Don’t ask questions where the answers could be found easily on the school’s website; but if something comes up in the interview that you want to ask a follow-up question about or you have a question where the answer will give you valuable information to help you make your decision, ask it!

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A growth mindset is a new concept in a lot of educational circles, but it is trending in education right now because it introduces the idea of shifting the focus from achievement (grades) and placing it on effort and determination to accomplish goals.

Carol Dweck: Growth Mindset Pioneer

In a book published in 2007, psychology professor Carol Dweck was one of the first to embrace the concept of the growth mindset as a beneficial tool for educators.  Based on her research on the subject, promoting a growth mindset in the classroom requires certain fundamentals if the idea is going to have any success.

According to Dweck, a student’s notion about his or her ability to achieve falls between the fixed mindset and growth mindset:

  • Fixed Mindset: the idea that abilities and intelligence are fixed and cannot be improved
  • Growth Mindset: the idea that persistence and continuous effort will develop and enhance abilities and skills

Since our mindset helps determine the amount of motivation we have as learners, Dweck urges educators to build learning environments that focus on aiming students toward a growth mindset.

The following are essential strategies you can use to help instill a growth mindset in today’s classroom.

1. Refrain from Applauding Intelligence and Effort

Focusing on intelligence often restricts students’ concept of learning because they associate it with earning grades (which is a fixed mindset).  According to Dweck, the objective is to focus on the process of learning and the methods taken to reach their learning goals, because focusing on intelligence can enhance a fixed mindset.

Effort is important in establishing a growth mindset, but to focus on it above everything else can send out the implication that a student’s effort is not enough—as if to say the student’s attempt is the best they can do and there’s no room for improvement.

If students think intelligence is fixed, there won’t be much motivation to go beyond what the student thinks is their best effort. That means the students may show a lack of interest in assignments and may perform even poorer on their assignments.

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Overview of USATestprep and the QA position:

USATestprep is a rapidly growing, market-leading, education technology company based in suburban Atlanta. Our passionate, close-knit team has built a high growth, profitable business
and an exceptional company culture, dedicated to supporting teachers and students across the country. We are hiring high-impact, talented staff across all departments. We seek a Quality Assurance engineer to join our team and continue building the QA function at our company. This person will be responsible for driving the test strategy, developing and running automated and manual testing, coordinating with other staff who support the testing process, and working with the rest of the technology team to refine our release process to
reduce defects.

USATestprep offers competitive compensation and excellent benefits.

Priorities and deliverables:
Define manual and automated test strategy, create and execute test cases, and
document test artifacts to ensure thorough testing of components and overall quality of
delivered product
Organize, document, and perform test cases based on specifications and interactions
with Management, Developers, and other team members
Identify, classify and prioritize issues found through testing using issue tracking system
Regularly report on product quality

Advanced SQL skills writing complex queries
Experience in writing and executing automated test scripts
Experience writing and maintaining automated testing scripts
Experience using automated testing tools like Selenium, TestComplete, Test Studio,
WatiN, or similar
Ability to analyze business and/or functional requirement documents for testing purposes
Strong analytical and organizational skills
Strong written and verbal communication skills

Compensation package:
Annual salary of 60-80K to be reevaluated on December 1, 2018.
Annual bonus dependent on performance and company profits
Healthcare coverage effective on the first of the month following 30 days of employment
401(k) eligibility after one year of service
Profit-sharing plan eligibility after one year of service
Prorated 20 days personal time off per year
10 company-observed holidays per year

Raises and bonuses based on annual contract evaluation in December
All equipment provided

To Apply:

Please email your resume to Jay Eckard at