“I looooove USATP!  So good for the kids. My favorite feature is the ‘remediation’ with a click of a button. There is NO way a teacher could do that in a class of 35-40. Some teachers are afraid of ‘tech,’ but I am sharing how awesome it is on my site. Thank you!”

Biology teacher Andrea Buckner

When we received the above email from California Quartz Hill High School biology teacher Andrea Buckner, we broke out the champagne, gave everyone a raise, and declared every third Friday “Andrea Buckner Day.”

Well, that’s what we wanted to do. Instead we settled for a few simple (but heartfelt) high-fives, and a renewed determination to do whatever we can to meet the needs of our teachers.

As a company founded by teachers, for teachers, with a lot of teachers working for us (seriously—they make us raise our hands in meetings before speaking), it’s in our DNA to simplify the staggering amount of work teachers face daily, while maintaining excellence in student performance and outcomes.

Here’s what Ms. Buckner had to say about how we’re doing with that goal:

USATP: You’ve been using USATestprep for about a year now. How did you first learn of us?

AB: I was googling something like “NGSS online tests” and found you. I was blown away by the price.

USATP: In a good way, we hope?

AB: Let’s just say you are priced exceptionally well!

USATP: So, you were looking for California standards-aligned science assessments?

AB: Yes, but I was also looking for tools that my colleagues and I could use to teach our kids in a way equal to or better than how we currently teach, while taking some of the load off our plate. What I love about this tool is that I can make sure the kids are learning, they’re getting multiple practice attempts to ensure they understand the concept, they’re getting homework and quizzes, and I don’t have to spend every evening and weekend creating and grading all of it. It’s just right there, ready for me.

USATP: We like to say we give teachers back their Tuesday and Thursday nights.

AB: (laughing): And their weekends!

USATP: How do you find you most often use the site?

AB: Mostly for homework and other teachers can’t believe how much homework I can get my kids to do. It’s because I can set score thresholds for the assignments. My kids will keep working on the same assignments until they know the material because they want to move on, and I don’t have to stand over them and keep assigning homework over and over. I love the assignment strands for homework.

USATP: And you mentioned your love of remediation.

AB: Yes, I love your remediation tool! I use it with tests. I can hit the individual remediation button and I tell my students that if they complete the remediation—which is individualized for them—I’ll let them take the test again.

Fun Fact:

Andrea may not realize it, but she has achieved rock-star status in the inner sanctums of USATestprep. For single user accounts, such as a science course, a “healthy” amount of student logins is considered to be around 300. Andrea’s class has posted 6,672 logins. AND COUNTING. 

Andrea—thank you for sharing your love of USATestprep with us, with your colleagues, and—if we can get those Friday’s declared Andrea Buckner Days—with the world.

Would you like your classroom featured on our blog? We love to brag about our users! Contact dena@usatestprep.com and we’ll get your story told!

VVA logo

Caitlyn Thomas is a Math 8 teacher at the Virginia Virtual Academy powered by K12. The academy formerly used Study Island but made the switch two years ago to USATestprep. Both middle and high school now use the online teacher and student success platform for benchmark assessments and daily classroom instruction.

Thomas believes the USATestprep platform makes it easy for teachers to quickly get up to speed. 

“We’ve grown tremendously over the past few years,” she says. “I think one year we had more new than returning teachers and, with so much being new, when we made the switch to a new learning platform it was almost like, ‘Oh no, here’s one more thing to learn.’ But it turned out to be really simple so it was never an issue.” 

Teachers at Virginia Virtual Academy are required to use the platform for their benchmark tests throughout the year and may use it additionally as they would like. Thomas uses the platform’s Virginia-aligned standards to prepare her students for state testing. She’s currently using the tool to plan her final push to prepare her Math 8 students for May standards testing. 

“I use the bank of items for review, checkpoint quizzes, and I create individual quizzes of about 5-10 questions on each standard to make sure my kids are ready and comfortable with what’s coming,” she says. “Virginia is very standards-based, so knowing I have a tool in my back pocket to help me teach the standards is a big help.”

When asked what she would tell schools or teachers considering USATestprep, Thomas says she would call out two things: ease of use and depth of data.

 “It’s super easy for me to create assessments. And the breadth of data I get is so far beyond students passing or not passing. I can look at the data by question, by standard, or by category. Having all those pieces of info is super helpful for me to be able to dial in.”

Good luck to all Ms. Thomas’ Math 8 students on their May testing! To learn more about how USATestprep can be used for assessments, test prep, and daily instruction, request a no-obligation free trial.

Anne Edwards has been teaching middle school world history for the better part of thirty-two years. (Let’s hear it for Anne.)

Yay Ms. Edwards!

A beloved teacher at Southwest Middle School in Orange County, Florida, Anne has been assessing, testing, remediating, wrangling, and enjoying her time in the classroom with her 6th grade world history students for twenty years. She started using USATestprep three years ago with amazing results.

USATP: Give us the headline on your thoughts surrounding USATestprep.

Anne: I love it!

USATP: And we love hearing that! How did you learn about us?

Anne: I was browsing online and read a review or found a page about it–I don’t even remember exactly what it was but I remember my reaction. I thought, “I have to try this.”

USATP: Were you using another online learning platform at the time?

Anne: No, I never used anything before USATestprep. Which is why it’s a little surprising that I’m such a cheerleader for the platform. But it truly makes life so much easier.

USATP: How so?

Anne: The remediation button alone probably frees up five hours a week of my time where I don’t have to spend a planning period working on remediation. Instead, I just click the button after an assessment and my students have everything they need to in front of them to shore up areas of weakness. It’s a huge timesaver because, obviously, not every child needs the same thing.

The remediation button alone probably frees up five hours a week of my time where I don’t have to spend a planning period working on remediation.

USATP: What do your students think of USATestprep?

Anne: The Sasquatch Olympics are a big hit–they talk about that all the time. But they also love that everything in the platform is short and gets to the point. Sixth graders can have the attention span of a gnat. They get a 3-minute video, they answer a few questions and boom. Done. They can move on.

USATP: How do you use USATestprep in the classroom?

Anne: I use it for in-class practice assignments, assessments, and remediation. The three other world history teachers and myself love the assessment data you provide. We have to provide a breakdown of the data by DOK standards and domain, and that’s exactly how the platform delivers it. I also use the data and tools for weekly one-on-one with my students. We sit together and they show me where they’re at, what they’ve done. They enjoy being able to track their own progress.

USATP: I believe you participate in the Green Dot Challenge?

Anne: We loooove the Green Dot Challenge! My kids are super competitive and we do an entire end-of-year sixth-grade world history green dot challenge.

USATP: Did you receive training on how to use our platform?

Anne: I’ve taken some over the years but really, I figured it out on my own. If I can do it, a monkey can do it. It really is that simple.

USATP: What’s the one thing you’d want to tell a teacher or administrator considering USATestprep for their classroom(s)?
Anne: Do it. You won’t regret it. There are so many things available and the company is fine-tuning resources all the time, which makes it even better.

Many thanks to Anne for her time and best of luck to all of Anne’s students in their testing. GO SEA LIONS!!

While teachers are typically the ones handing out assignments, when it came to finding the perfect teaching tool, one teacher in Danville, VA looked to his students for help.

High school English teacher Cary Wright has taught in Danville, VA for 23 years and counting. Two years ago, as he was preparing his 11th grade students at Galileo Magnet High School for their spring reading assessment, he asked his students to find a free or low-cost test-prep site. They came back to him with USATestprep.

Wright requested a free trial with amazing results. “I used the USATestprep report to help students who scored below 400 dial in on which standards they needed to work on. I then used the site to take my kids through remediation. Every single one of them passed.”

Wright quickly requested a subscription and now recommends USATestprep to every core content teacher.

“The best value I receive from the site is as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of the semester, said Wright. “This is the first semester I had the platform start to finish and what I did is create an assessment that was approximately 75% of the entire test. I gave that out the first day of class. That let me obtain an initial layout of each student’s skills and abilities, which was essential. Then I used the data to group students, pairing strengths and weaknesses for enhanced learning.”

“The best value I receive from the site is as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of the semester…”

Beyond assessment, Wright uses the platform for one-on-ones. “I work with the student in an individual conference to give support to those weaknesses identified by the program. Then they can do the work whenever they want to, which is fantastic,” he said. “Waiting for the bus, if they can’t sleep… it’s a huge timesaver for me. They’re doing the work, we’re both tracking it, and we’re both seeing results.”

Wright notes he appreciates the interaction offered by USATestprep. “When I wanted to tweak a couple of reading passages and questions, I called and got Larry Coty (USATestprep math and ELA lead coordinator) on the phone. He listened to what I wanted and made the changes immediately. I also requested new writing EOC products and Larry and team jumped right in.”

Per Coty, Wright’s request for new writing EOC products was great to receive. “It not only came at a time when we’re adding to our Virginia products and customer base, but was great because it was prompted by his good experiences using our reading products. With my thirty-plus years in the classroom, I enjoy hearing success stories from teachers like Cary. It’s personally satisfying to be able to give teachers time-saving  tools to use in their daily work with students–because I remember how valuable that time is.”

Finally, pricing is another selling point in Wright’s eyes. “The services and results I receive through USATestprep are immense, and the price is far better than any competitor. If I had one bit of advice for the company, it would be, ‘Keep up the good work.’”

Learn more about how USATestprep can be used for assessments, test prep, and daily instruction. Request a no-obligation free trial.

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 Personalized Learning?

In a one-size-fits-all education system that encourages conformity to the desired “norm,” the theory of personalized learning is gaining attention in schools and communities across the nation. Understanding and appreciating students as unique individuals with unique needs and diverse learning styles, the personalized learning approach offers students a different methodology to meet their needs and enhance their education.

Tailored to individual learning preferences and seeking to meet the specific interests of a variety of learners, personalized learning plans seek to help encourage lifelong learning and increase student engagement in order to close achievement gaps and ensure college and career-readiness.

Personalized Learning is not a hands-off free-for-all. It requires identifying an end goal and working to meet that goal by backwards planning and the implementation of targeted, data-driven, high-interest instruction. Educational goals and the plan to meet them is highly personalized and flexible. Students create academic goals with the guidance of educators and regularly reflect on their goals, taking ownership of their educational plans. Read More»

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

Qualifications:
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 jay@usatestprep.com.

Dear Valued Teachers,

We know that you are looking forward to your well-earned time away from the classroom this summer.  As a company founded and run by former teachers, we cannot emphasize this enough: Enjoy yourselves! If your circumstances are changing and you won’t be returning to the classroom next school year, please read on.

USATestprep is seeking a teacher who is no longer in the classroom to help us with our training program in the 2018-19 school year.  Here are the requirements:

  • Flexible schedule in the 2018-19 school year to travel nationally and conduct training sessions with groups of teachers
  • Extensive experience using USATestprep website in the classroom
  • Enthusiasm for teaching fellow teachers

This is not full or part-time employment, but a contractual position.  The selected applicants will be paid for all training sessions conducted and be fully reimbursed for all travel expenses.  Typical travel takes 1-3 days, and you can be based anywhere in the US.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please email Amy Brown at amy@usatestprep.com with a copy of your resume or CV. If you know someone who may be interested, please have them do the same.

As educators, we’re well aware of the need for better technology in the classroom – technology that not only improves learning but also makes our jobs easier. There is a growing list of challenges we face as educators: the endless grading of papers, the search for teaching resources, the need to tailor lessons to each student’s learning style.

As technology continues to change, the role that technology can play in K12 education is also quickly changing.  We’re not talking about replacing teachers with robots!  We are looking at how educators can leverage technology to better support our teaching efforts. Here are five methods educators are using, nationwide, to improve student achievement while reducing the time demands placed on themselves.

1. Instant Grading and Feedbackscreen-shot-2017-07-07-at-3-14-51-pm
Many teachers are finding the ability to autograde assignments on a curriculum practice website to be one of the most useful enhancements made possible with technology.  Hand-grading is antiquated, since most practice and curriculum platforms can assess multiple choice, short answer, true/false, and many other question types.  Alongside the score, students can also receive an explanation as to why their answer was marked incorrect. This immediate feedback is crucial in the learning process, as these students are accustomed to a fast-paced society that provides instant gratification. Instant grading and feedback can be done on USATestprep’s platform.

2. Self-Directed Learning
Students learn at different rates, with various learning styles, and in a variety of settings. Their backgrounds and level of required support also vary.  Online learning platforms allow each student to interact with the content at his or her own level and speed.  Many websites, including USATestprep, offer assistive technology features to increase student achievement, such as word prediction, screen readers, closed captioning, and highlighting tools.  Online content is readily available at all times, which is great for students who need extra time to complete assignments or those who want extra practice.  

3. Assessment-Based Differentiation
Facilitating formal and informal assessments on a web-based platform can provide educators and students with results and easy-to-use data upon completion.  These results help evaluate student mastery of the standards and domains, and allow students and teachers to develop plans of action and remediation.  Many educators then choose to assign students practice work to strengthen their foundations within the standards.  Differentiation is easily implemented on sites such as USATestprep, by providing one-click entry to resources specifically designed to focus on the subject matter.

4. Supplemental Instructional Resources
As educators, we are constantly adding resources to our toolboxes.  Websites such as Pinterest and internet searches can flood our minds with sample lesson ideas and downloadable templates for the classroom.  Often, we can waste time recreating the wheel when it has already been made for us.  There are websites designed to be a one-stop shop for us.  These sites include resources that supplement instruction throughout the learning cycle.  Look for websites that include videos that can be used for introducing a concept, vocabulary terms that can reinforce the lesson, performance tasks that encourage the students to interact with the content, and an open test bank of questions to build assessments. To see how these practice items can work in your lessons, request a live demo.

“Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.”

screen-shot-2017-07-07-at-2-02-48-pm5. Engaging Content
While many websites may provide resources for the teachers, we must also consider the level of engagement for students.  Today’s students need stimulating colors and graphics, interactive content, lively videos, and real-world application questions. Carla Devereaux, at Babb Middle School, has found that, “Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.” Some websites offer a token-based reward system for games that allow students to take brain breaks between questions or assignments. Other sites may provide content-based games that allow students to progress as they continue answering questions correctly.  Students can also use technology to study abroad in the global classroom with students in other parts of the world, via video or streaming sites.

Want to Do More with Technology?
Go Here to Request Your Live Demo of USATestprep

As Atlanta’s tech star continues to rise, one local EdTech company has reached its 2 millionth student, after an unlikely beginning. The company was started by two former school teachers in 1998. Today their test prep resources are used in over 75% of Georgia’s high schools.

Unlike most test prep tools, USATestprep doesn’t just help with national tests like the ACT and SAT but offers practice aligned to state-specific tests. In Georgia, this means test prep resources for the GA Milestones.

kelsey bensonCobb County middle school teacher, Kelsey Benson, says she and her students enjoy using the platform’s projector games to practice the Georgia standardsA local student, Alyssa, says: “USATestprep is a really good study site. I use it before all of my tests, and I always get As. USATestprep really has helped me for all tests…”

Founder Jay Eckard sees agile companies benefiting from this sea of change by using tech to allow for even greater customization of curricula. One way USATestprep is working to stay ahead of the curve is with a new game arcade. Students earn points to redeem in the arcade by completing practice assignments from their teachers. Since the launch of the arcade last school year, USATestprep has seen an increase in students’ scores on practice work.

Fast Facts:

  • This past school year, Kennesaw-based USATestprep helped over 63,000 teachers prepare their 2,000,000 students for high-stakes testing.
  • Over 200,000 practice items have been developed by the company’s team of former school teachers. These include questions, instructional videos, engaging tasks, and more.

About USATestprep:

High school teachers Jay Eckard and Joe Winterscheidt started USATestprep because they saw a need to support students and teachers with new state testing requirements back in 1998. They wanted to make teachers’ lives easier and to help students pass the new state tests in order to graduate.