Notebook Tablet Replaces Bubble Sheets in Common Core Practice Testing

No longer filling bubbles with a No. 2 pencil, students are dragging answers from one side of a computer screen to another

There have been a few technical glitches in the new computerized Common Core testing but school officials believe practice testing happening now will pave the way for a smoother roll-out when the testing matters next year.

Elementary school students in Chula Vista, Calif. have been practicing with the Common Core standardized tests for three weeks.

The company, Smarter Balance, has designed a computer program for Math and English standards that also gives teachers the ability to walk students through test questions.

No longer filling bubbles with a No. 2 pencil, students are dragging answers from one side of a computer screen to another.

Enrique Camarena Elementary fifth graders were quietly taking the test Wednesday, clicking and dragging correct answers on the Asus Transformer Book, a device that is part touchscreen tablet, part laptop with a keyboard.

Answers will not count in the exercise that’s designed to give students the opportunity to try the new format of standardized testing and gives the test provider the opportunity to work out technical glitches for the real deal to be given next year.

Robert Cochran, the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s test coordinator, said there have been some technical glitches but for only a handful of students.

“There are things here and there, glitches here and there,” Cochran said. “But we were aware of them prior to the beginning of testing.”

“We’ve been dealing with them through testing,” he said. “Typically, they only affect maybe a student or two students in class.”

As for bringing the technology into the testing process, Cochran said students who use smartphones are having no issues working with the program.

“It’s inherent. Our students have phones, they are touch phones. Our students have computers,” he said. “It’s so ingrained now in our students.”

Student Jacob Mazeau said filling in the bubbles may be easier but, “this way, I’m getting a better knowledge of it so I can use it easier in life.”

His classmate, Patrick Clavillas, said, “I like life as a challenge, because there is no easy button in life. That’s what my teacher says.”

A portion of the test could be adaptive, Cochran said. That is, if a student keeps getting problems wrong, he or she will be given less difficult questions. If a student keeps getting problems correct, the student will be given more challenging questions.

This will help teachers better understand not only what each student knows but what he or she doesn’t know, Cochran said.

Teacher Robyn Elsmore said the logging in process was the most difficult but many students were able to troubleshoot the problems in the beginning.

“A few technical tings to work out but I think overall with more work, more professional development, more exposure to Common Core, I feel the students will be ready,” Elsmore said.

The tests will be given next year for the purposes of accountability just as the STAR test was used.

School officials say they have had approximately 30 students of the district’s 22,000 students opt out of the practice testing. Officials in Chula Vista Elementary School District say the number of students who have opted out is less than those under the STAR test.

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