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Michigan Program Prepares Students for Common-Core Testing

Some schools in Michigan are getting a taste of what they will soon be facing when it comes to standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. About 35,000 students there in grades 3-9 participated in a pilot testing program, taking the social studies portion of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, or MEAP, online, rather than on paper, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press. It's the first time that any portion of the MEAP has been administered on a computer.

The MEAP will be replaced with the Smarter Balanced Assessment in 2015, and that test will be given entirely online. To gear up for the shift to common-core testing, educators in Michigan are now evaluating their technology readiness and scrambling to come up with enough computers and broadband to meet the increased need. For schools in the pilot, securing enough technology for all students to be tested was a challenge, and that will likely continue to be an issue throughout the state, the article said. While the results of the pilot have not yet been released, students seem to have made a mostly seamless transition, the article said.

In addition to being online, the Smarter Balanced consortium developing the tests has indicated that the assessments will be adaptive, meaning that each question a student sees will depend in part on how he or she answered the previous question. For example, if a student answers a question correctly, he or she will receive a harder question next. An incorrect answer would prompt an easier question.

Still confused? Check out this infographic that Digital Directions created to explain the concept:


As my colleague Michelle Davis explains in her story about adaptive testing, which appears in the latest edition of Digital Directions, some educators wonder whether the shift from fixed-form tests to adaptive tests in addition to the transition from paper-and-pencil assessments to online versions could cause unnecessary headaches for states. But advocates of adaptive testing say that it can better pinpoint students' ability levels, especially for high achievers and struggling students. And some students find the tests more engaging because they are targeted to their ability levels.

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