1 district using tech to prep for Common Core

Posted at 11:00 AM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 11:00:32-05

North College Hill schools had a problem: While Common Core testing was moving online teachers faced a dearth of online-based preparation tools. They opted instead for traditional pencil-and-paper testing.

With this predicament in mind, the North College Hill City School District went in search of a better way to prepare students for Common Core testing.

“We were looking for something to give students practice using a computer online, and by using online, we were hoping to find something that would do grading of multiple choice questions to give immediate feedback (to the teacher),” said Kelly Herges, a school improvement counselor at Hamilton County Educational Service Center, which helped North College Hill select a new assessment system.

Herges and school administrators decided on a system called Edulastic to better measure students’ performance against Common Core standards. Edulastic is an online learning platform where teachers can access and share assessments modeled after the Common Core tests, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

“It’s tech-enhanced,” Herges said. “The students can do drag-and-drop (questions) and select more than one answer. It’s not just basic A, B, C, D tests.”

Edulastic also automatically grades the tests and gives teachers immediate feedback about how students are doing while they are taking the test. For Emily Mulcahey, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at North College Hill Middle School, these features have proven invaluable in preparing for the test.

“Being able to have the multiple choice graded and analyzed immediately is huge,” Mulcahey said. “If in one class a lot of kids missed question No. 4, but in another class everybody seemed to get it right, I can examine my teaching: ‘What am I doing in one class that we may not be covering in another that’s going to make this different in scores?’ That takes more time to see when it’s not being done instantaneously for you.”

According to Mulcahey, the ability to see each student’s individual performance in real time allows her to even approach a struggling student during or after the assessment and give them more individualized attention. The automatic grading frees up time for teachers to actually help students with areas where they struggle.

“Teaching 90 students over the course of a day, grading a multiple choice test would take about 30 minutes per class. That’s still 90 minutes,“ Mulcahey said. “So anything that can take some of that away from me is a huge plus.”

So far, Herges and Mulcahey are both enthusiastic about Edulastic. According to Herges, beginning in September all grade levels started using the system for monthly Common Core assessments.