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UCSD/BOCES Collaboration

OHM BOCES Pilots Online Testing with Utica City School District A student and teacher from Utica City School District

Feb. 19, 2016 (Utica, N.Y.) – When the 28 students in Julie Adamo’s second grade class came to school to take their ELA benchmark assessment tests, they were expecting to sit at their desks with their pencils and fill out an answer sheet.

But, for the first time, these students at Jefferson Elementary in the Utica City School District went to a computer lab and took their test online using the Agilix Buzz platform.

Buzz, formerly, Brainhoney, is an online learning management system that can be used in K-12 classrooms. OHM BOCES is utilizing the system to support the region through dissemination of Common Core standards aligned curricular content developed by local teachers.

Utica City School District Superintendent of Schools Bruce Karam encouraged the pilot program and continues to support the district’s partnership with BOCES and the utilization of the Buzz platform district wide.

“We are very excited about this collaboration with Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES,” said Denise DiSpirto, district-wide academic intervention services (AIS) coordinator in the Utica City School District. “It’s a much easier process to score and analyze the data.”

“The Utica City School District continues to be great partners in collaborating to best meet the emergent needs of their students,” said Matthew Bashant, supervisor of the Instructional Support Services at OHM BOCES. “Through Utica defining their goals, OHM BOCES has been able to provide, in this initial instance, an opportunity to gain real-time analytics on student performance for their second benchmark exams leveraging the Learning Management System Agilix Buzz.”

Could this be the future of testing for local school districts?

“It most likely is,” said DiSpirto. “It puts us ahead of the game with testing. The platform allows us to align everything with the module standards and make instant changes to the exams. We are looking at expanding this testing to support more grades.”

“The second phase of this collaboration will replicate with more classes the initial experience for the third benchmark assessment at Jefferson Elementary School,” Bashant explained. “This will assist the teachers, building and District by providing instant reports on student content and standards aligned performance. This real-time analysis provides immediate opportunities for enhancing, modifying or allocating resources toward targeted needs of each student. Once completed, the District and OHM BOCES will continue the discussion to see how to best support a district-wide initiative.”

Students currently use the computer for 30 minutes each day at Jefferson, which is about how long the test took to complete. So, for most students, there is a high comfort level of using the technology.

“The students use the same usernames and passwords they use daily to log on to the computers,” said Vanessa Rejrat, principal at Jefferson Elementary. “This online testing gives immediate feedback and allows us to address any issues students have right away. The teacher then has a chance to hone in on each student’s skills much faster.”

“This testing saved so much time on grading,” said Adamo. “One of the best parts is being able to  identify which questions were missed most often and pinpoint what answers the students chose instead, and then determine the standards that needed re-teaching. I could make these adjustments right away.”

Not only is the online testing faster and more accurate for teachers, but the students liked the speed of it too.

“I really liked it better,” said Norah Neives, a second grader in Adamo’s class. “We didn’t have to wait a long time to find out how we did.”

Jean Palmer