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Officials fear online math SOLs will hurt students

By Steven G. VeghMarch 18, 2012 Students who haven't mastered "click and drag" and other computer techniques could have trouble with the state's latest Standards of Learning math exam that will be given online this spring, some school administrators officials fear.

Students who don't have access to a home computer to hone their skills will be disadvantaged during the testing, Norfolk School Board member Linda Horsey said last week.

"This is a segmentation, a segregation, of those who have and those who don't," Horsey said at a recent board meeting. She said that if the division doesn't address the student computer skills gap, "We are contributing to the segregation of this learning population, and I don't use that word lightly."

The state Department of Education has been shifting for years from paper SOL tests to online testing in all exam subjects. The department says online exams reduce the number of testing errors and are more efficient.

Additionally, "We've had learning standards for K 12 in computer technology for quite some time," department spokesman Charles Pyle said. The state expects divisions to teach students those skills and has given school systems "a lot of funding" to underwrite that mandate, he said.

Michael Bolling, a mathematics coordinator for the state Education Department, said the latest version of the math SOL test measures students' ability to "Anadrol 50" apply what they've learned, particularly critical thinking skills. To do that, the exam puts more attention on ability to answer multistep questions and is less reliant on multiple choice questions.

"That's what these tests represent; it's a big step in the right direction," he said. The department has provided divisions with practice exams, lesson plans for teachers and training videos to help prepare for testing in May.

The latest tests include four "technology enhanced" methods:

Drop and drag: Students are given several answer options for a question, and must click on the correct option and drag it to a "drop zone" using a computer mouse.

Hot spot: Students choose the correct answer by clicking the Methenolone Enanthate Effects cursor on answer options called hot spots. Unlike a classic multiple choice test, hot spot questions can have one or more proper answers. A student who clicks on one answer but not on the others gets no credit.

Graphs: Students create or finish a graph, which could include bar graphs and line plots.

Fill in the blank: Students respond to a question by typing in a text entry field.

The math SOL also includes tool bar icons and functions, such as a protractor, that are unique to the exam, said Donald Robertson, Virginia Beach's assistant superintendent of educational "Achat Anabolisant Belgique" leadership and assessment. That means students with no computer access outside school aren't automatically at a disadvantage compared with "Anaboliset Aineet" classmates who have a computer at home.

"Some of the tools that the kids need to use for graphing, for example, you're only going to get exposed to from the interactive white board or being "Anaboliset Aineet" in a test practice session," he said. "They have to Equipoise Or Deca For Mass have the practice in the classroom."

The Suffolk division is preparing for the exam by deploying more laptops and giving students more time in school on online practice tests, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw Oral Turinabol 10mg said.

Generally, students with a home computer have an advantage that "applies to every lesson, every SOL test every assignment and not just this math test technology change," she said. As a result, she said, Suffolk provides students significant time in school for Internet and computer use.

The technology gap among students and the newness of some math SOL computer tools are challenges in Norfolk, said Christine Harris, Norfolk's "buy cheap jintropin online" associate superintendent for academic affairs. The division addresses the gap by training students in computer skills starting in pre K, she said.

For the latest math SOL, the division is providing city recreation centers and after school groups with online practice versions of the exam so students can become familiar with the format. School classrooms also are using the practice tests.

"Whether they have a computer at home or not, we work with all students to build their skill," Harris said. "We don't want them to not answer the question because of these new technology items."

The possibility that some students might have inadequate computer skills represented "a huge potential pitfall" that could drag down divisions' test scores, Robertson said. SOL scores are a major factor in school accreditation.

"Unfortunately, the state has created an assessment that tests not only your math skills but also your technical skills," he said.

Pyle acknowledged that among divisions that already have given the new test, scores have plunged. But he said the exam's new content and focus on critical thinking were to blame rather than the technology enhanced items.

"We will see lower pass rates," he said of exams scheduled for this spring. "It's not a sign our students are learning less; it's a sign that the state is expecting more in terms of higher standards for math to ensure that when students graduate, they have the college and career ready skills they need."COMMENTS ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here; comments do not reflect the views of or its websites. Users must follow agreed upon rules: Be civil, be clean, be on topic; don't attack private individuals, other users or classes of people. Read the full rules here.

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Local school boards are terrified, voicing their fears in articles such as this due to VDOE change in focus away from pure multiple choice testing. So far, the only moderate changes have come in high school math with far lesser changes in middle school math and preliminary but minor changes in 4/5/6 math that are not expected to affect scores. Everything else is in field testing stage. I was pointing out that the online testing being referenced has been in place for years.