HIGH STAKES COMPUTER BASED
ACCESSIBLE TESTING FOR STUDENTS WITH A
1305 Cumberland Avenue Suite 105
West Lafayette IN 47906
Day Phone: 765-775-3776
accessible testing solutions has become vital as the No Child Left Behind Act has
made schools subject to strict accountability for the educational progress of
all students, including those with disabilities. Greater awareness of
technologies that help educators individualize both access to knowledge as well
as the ability to conduct testing is becoming more wide spread. These new tools
permit students to access information in a way that fully supports their
individual learning styles and increases their ability to demonstrate their
knowledge of the material they have studied. The demand to turn around results
in a more rapid manner is also driving the move to computer based testing. The
ability to take, record and score tests more quickly and efficiently allows
state education departments to move testing to later in the year, therefore
enhancing the potential performance of their student populations.
based accessible tests can be generated at two levels: high stakes tests for
standardized state assessments and, low stakes tests for materials that require
less security and are used for in classroom tests and quizzes.
computer based tests require that tests appear as close in appearance as the
printed version. This entails presenting all content, formatting and images as
they appear in print. Standardized tests also require multiple answer types
that must be emulated. These include multiple choice, gridded response and text
box input. All of which are needed to ensure the validity of the test process.
In addition a high level of test security is required to maintain the integrity
of the test during the testing period as well as during the test creation, data
collection and evaluation periods.
Stakes testing typically have less stringent security demands and require that
tests and quizzes be created on demand for classroom use.
This presentation is directed
to high stakes testing solutions
The ability of computer based tests to permit each student to take the test independently eliminates the need for proctors having to read or answer questions for the students. With each student able to manipulate the test themselves, they are able to progress through the test at their own rate, review questions as they wish, and are not potentially directed by human intervention.
Test taking productivity is also enhanced if each student can use the same Assistive technology they use each day in the classroom. For students with mobility impairments the opportunity to use the same head mouse, switch and associated software to interface with a test eliminates concerns that the student has to focus more effort on taking the test than on evaluating the content. Accessible computer based testing permits students with a range of print disabilities to take advantage of features and allowable accommodations that enhance their ability to successfully take the test on their own. Specific features include:
computer generated speech
clarity and greater word recognition with human-like pronunciation
clear text without loss of clarity
highlighting by word, sentence, and section
Visual tracking and synchronized speech maintain focus on content and assist in word recognition
of user’s assistive technology
learning new interface devices and speeds up test taking
Accessible Testing System (ATS)
To best understand the Accessible Testing System, the following software architecture diagram is useful:
ATS Core Technology
The base technology of the system is the Accessible Testing System core technology, which is the patent-pending IP developed by gh over the past 4 years. This technology provides a basic feature set for any particular implementation which includes but is not limited to the following:
• XML parsing and file management for test content
• “skin-able” GUI for custom-built applications
• Core accessibility features such as Text-To-Speech, Synchronized Highlighting, keyboard or mouse control, and non-standard input device control
• Basic test navigation and management features, such as previous/next question, section breaks, and question review
• Student management and proctor controls, to turn on/off features and enable/disable test content
• Security and encryption features for protection of test content and student data
• Backup and fault-tolerant behavior including saving of state in the event of power failure
• Student data collection and management, and network communication protocols for transmittal of secure test and student data
• Accessibility “Hooks” for the inclusion of basic tools for student use, such as calculators, word prediction and supplemental software into the core system
• A set of basic tools including calculators, math grid and word prediction
The second “layer” of the ATS is the custom User Interface, also known as the GUI “skin”. This is meant to be customized for the individual client or application. Custom skins can contain the desired marketing information, a consistent “look and feel” with the existing mainstream EBT products, and also specific test performance requirements. Test navigation, proctor controls, tools, student profiles, and other high-level features can be customized to meet the individual needs of each customer while retaining the accessibility and security of the core ATS. Custom “skins” are developed for each application based on the input of the customer development team.
Finally, the top “layer” of the ATS is the actual test content itself. The ATS is designed to handle multiple tests at any given time. Test content is authored by the test provider, and then sent to gh for conversion into the accessible XML content as described above. Upon deployment, student data will be sent back directly to the test provider for grading in its’ existing grading mechanism (with the rare exception in the case of certain severely disabled students in which certain items must be hand-graded).
High Quality TTS Voices
A variety of high quality TTS voices are available for each test. By using different voices, typically one male and one female, test content can be more easily differentiated from test application information. Having high quality TTS voices ensures that the punctuation of test items is flawless (for those students requiring speech as an accommodation). Obviously, flawless pronunciation and clarity is critical in a testing environment. Voices are domain-tuned to the test content so that the quality and clarity is nearly impossible to distinguish from human speech.
For individuals with vision impairments the XML-based electronic test file is supported by Large Print, Braille, Verbal Descriptive Narratives and tactile images that provide a comprehensive test taking experience for each student. Through these supplemental materials questions that can not be communicated effectively on a computer monitor can be represented through other media giving the student full comprehension of the test content.