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.