Improving MN Online Testing?

If you work at a public school in the state of Minnesota and you haven’t heard of online testing, you’re either lucky, or you haven’t read an e-mail in about 5 years.

The state started off with the “Online in 09” motto in which the goal was to get all required state testing done via computer. That motto soon dissolved.

So, as a question to all I ask; “What can be done to improve MN State Online Testing?”

Here are just a few of my own ideas. Agree or disagree. I’m interested in your opinions.

  • Web-based (supposedly coming in 2010-2011 and should eliminate the need for a client)
  • If going web-based ensure it works with IE, Mozilla, Opera, Safari
  • Use SSL encryption
  • Eliminate video/graphics (most aren’t very helpful)
  • Eliminate need for Caching
  • Multiple Choice, True/False, Essay only (no drag and drop matching)
  • Do not require antivirus to be disabled. EVER!
  • Allow the volume to be set after testing has begun
  • Make the test management site easier for proctors
  • Using practice content is cumbersome
  • Make it easier to find useful instructions
  • Update software 1 or 2 times per year, NEVER during testing windows
  • Ensure state staff have working knowledge of the products being used
  • Work more with MN educators to develop testing content
  • Require password change 2 times per year, not every 30 days
  • Do not impose testing on schools if the tests don’t need to be passed to graduate
  • Trust schools to prevent test cheating, reduce security restrictions

Online testing in Minnesota can’t be all bad can it? They have done some good things right? Here are just a few things I have either been impressed with or at least satisfied with.

  • Support has been relatively good
  • System status site is very helpful
  • Webinars are helpful (as long as staff presenting know the products)

Unfortunately the list of good is much smaller. Perhaps it is unfair to be so critical, but it is hard when the state is requiring so much testing and then they produce a very inefficient way of administering the tests. Schools are worried that state testing will begin taking over their classrooms to the point there will be little time for teaching. With the Math and Reading retakes this year going online we have had testing every month which has taken labs out of commission for long periods of time and disrupted many students daily learning.

Testing is good but teaching is more important and I don’t feel we can afford to give up so much teaching time for such inefficient testing time.

If you have ideas that you think would benefit MN Online Testing be vocal when you attend testing webinars. Ask lots of questions and when given the chance submit your ideas to the state. I plan to submit some of my ideas to the state as well. MN Online Testing is not an entirely bad endeavour, it just needs some polishing.


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