For information on getting our new K-2 resources for your Alabama school, request a no-obligation free trial, sign-up for an online tour of the product, or call our Alabama outreach specialist Bridgit Hunt at 877-377-9537 x122.
USATestprep is excited to announce the launch of a new K-2 product line for Alabama educators. We sat down with Dr. Christine Jax, our Chief Academic Officer, for a behind-the-scenes look at the new content and what lies in store for early childhood education testing.
USATestprep has historically served grades 3-12. What motivated you to develop additional K-2 resources for students in Alabama?
Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, Alabama will begin assessing 2nd-grade math and ELA with the new statewide ACAP Summative assessment. Scores will only be used to measure growth for their 3rd-grade year but, as educators, we know that what happens in the early years matters to later learning styles. Teachers have been asking us for this product because they know us and love us from our offerings for grades 3-12. We want children to find success early on with testing. We’re thrilled to work with educators in Alabama with a product made especially for young learners, and we’ll be closely monitoring and tweaking how our product can continue to help children learn and develop.
Are all your K-2 offerings state-standards aligned?
Everything we offer is standards-aligned! But that’s another reason we’re branching out to K-2. There’s a lot of razzle-dazzle content products out there for K-2, but few companies provide content for that age aligned to state standards. We’re standards-aligned across all grade levels and all areas--math, science, social studies, and ELA.
Is there a difference in creating test prep curriculum for young learners?
We are a company founded by teachers and filled with teachers who care about both teaching and learning. We know that testing young children is controversial so we want to make it easy for the kids, support teachers, and give these young learners early success so that they can see that testing isn’t something to be scared of.
Think of it this way--these kids are potentially going to be facing testing for the next two decades. We want to help them see that testing can be rewarding and helpful. And we want to be there to help early education teachers go down this new path of assessing younger students and helping them prepare their students to feel comfortable with tests and testing.
Curriculum items for young students are typically bright and cutesy. The K-2 products offered by USATestprep are more straightforward. Why?
Young learners are bombarded with stimuli--games, colors, noise--in and outside the classroom. We’re aiming to prepare them for a state examination and later years of schooling. We stay focused on engaging them with the content itself, versus engaging them with stimuli. So the look of our product is very intentional. However, we make sure to offer a variety of content, including matching, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and videos that engage students and scaffold their learning.
Describe your process for creating the K-2 content.
We recently expanded our core academic team--made up entirely of former classroom teachers--with an elementary school expert. We then recruited certified and experienced early childhood educators to write the content, as well as hired outside ECE experts to validate the content for standards alignment and age-appropriateness.
We also did informal-testing to get the approval of our own children! Our COO, for example, is a former high school math teacher who had her children take some of the curricula. We felt ready to launch once they gave us the thumbs up. (Laughs.)
Does the content lend itself to all classrooms--blended, 1:1?
Absolutely. The new K-2 products work exactly like our grades 3-12 products. Teachers can quickly create basic or custom assessments, automatically assign questions for remediation based on standards missed or level of difficulty, and use our classroom resources like bell ringers to give kids activities to do throughout the day.
And the most important question--when is the new Alabama K-2 content available?
Everything is ready now but we’re doing a formal roll-out on November 1.
Any final thoughts?
This is an opportunity for students to learn at an early age the benefits of formative assessments in the classroom. Even young learners are savvy, and they become motivated when they can see how they are learning and improving. The remediation assignments are a wonderful way for these students to develop early meta-cognition. And we can help teachers of these grade levels save time and help develop their students with individualized learning plans. We’re just incredibly excited about the opportunity.