When we created the site back in 1998, we always wanted to create a tool for teachers to help their students. Â One way to encourage students was to introduce game play into the practice question environment. Â Our first game was titled “Head of the Class.” Â It involved students answering questions correctly to be able to advance through different levels of the game. Â There was no arcade game play element, but it was a nice alternative to traditional practice.
The rudimentary game was popular with students and teachers, so we began adding more games. Â Both students and teachers let us know that future games needed more excitement, so we added arcade bonus rounds between questions. Â If you notice, most game scoring is weighted heavier to question performance over bonus arcade play. Â We didn’t want our high score boards to only reflect skilled gamers: Â you must be skilled and do well on the questions.
Our latest game to be released, Arrrrrmagedddon, is a brand new type of two player game. Â It may be played by two students at different computers. Â So one player may make a move, then player two can respond next period, during lunch, or when he/she gets home. Â Again, our goal was to create an engaging game with the #1 goal of getting students to participate in meaningful question practice.
We hope you and your students enjoy our games, and keep an eye out for more. Â We have a lot of ideas on the way.
Welcome back to another exciting school year.Â We’re starting a new feature on the blog,Â In Focus.Â Each month, we’ll spotlight something of interest and give you an in-depth exploration on that topic.Â This could be based on USATestprep features, subject-specific topics, or educational policy.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â One suggestion is to flag questions that were missed by a large number of students from one test.Â Discuss them in class.Â 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.Â Now, students can test their understanding of the videos.Â Videos and Comprehension Questions can also be assigned to students.Â 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.Â At USATestprep, we’ve started addressing this concern by implementing two new features:Â Free Response Questions and Skill Work.Â Free Response Questions are in-depth application and research questions that assess a student’s deeper understanding on topics.Â 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.Â Skill Work is found in the student practice section. Free Response Questions are accessed in the online resources section.Â Both of these can be tasked to your students with the assignment system.
The new class management system for teachers is similar to a standard grade book.Â Teachers are now able to view student and class progress at a glance on concepts and assigned activities.Â 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.Â But wait, there’s much more to come this fall.Â 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.
USATestprep is happy to be attending the 25th Annual Texas Assessment Conference in Austin. If you’re planning on attending, come see us in booth 219: by registering to win a $50 Visa Gift Card and you can pick up a spiffy orange “Sasquatch Olympics” t-shirt!
Recently, USATestprep analyzed the scores from the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) and found that, in every subject, users who purchased a subscription saw higher gains than the state average. Scores were compared between 2005 and 2006 in Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies. High Schools were chosen that added their subscription between the two major spring test administrations.
We created this blog to share our passion of USATestprep with our subscribers. We want to include you in our development and love of our work. We also hope this blog will be a nice tool to increase communication with our subscribers.
Joe and Jay