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Schools test instant electronic grading system

DADE CITY — Josi Gonzalez pored over her math exam, trying to figure out which of the four choices correctly answered how many more laps Quincy swam than Mariah.

She did the work with pencil and paper. But when it came time to mark her response, the 8-year-old grabbed a white and blue remote control device and punched the corresponding letter.

All the third-graders sitting around her in Marilyn Sampson's Pasco Elementary classroom did the same. And Sampson monitored the results at a nearby laptop computer.

"Zackery," she called, reminding him to buzz in after noting he hadn't logged in an answer yet. "Did you press send?"

The boy and others quickly clicked their responses, which showed up on Sampson's screen as red for incorrect, green for correct.

"I have a lot of work to do," Sampson said after one question turned up red for nearly every child.

This may be the future of testing in Pasco schools.

In a few moments, teachers can get results that used to take hours to compile. They can immediately see which skills their students understand well and which they don't get.

It also will allow teachers to better tailor lessons to individual students. That's how it gets used in Hernando and Hillsborough schools.

"I'm excited about it," Sampson said.

So, too, were her students.

"I like it. It's fun to do," said Brandee Smith, 9, as she punched buttons.

"It's much easier to do (a test) with this because you can press the button and see if it's the right answer," said Cristina Sequen, 8.

Pasco Elementary is one of the first schools to try out the technology, which the district has not yet purchased. A set of 32 responders costs about $1,800.

Chasco Elementary and a handful of high schools also have sampled the clickers. If the early efforts prove successful, the district plans to use grant funds to buy enough to use in select high schools for end-of-semester exams this winter.

If money permits, district testing officials would like to see the responders in as many classrooms as possible — and not just for major tests.

Teachers could use them for quizzes to make sure their students recalled the previous day's lessons, research and evaluation supervisor Sarah Bombly said. Student councils might even use them to tally prom king and queen votes.

Sampson said the responders give her freedom from grading papers, which in turn allows her to focus more intently on student needs.

"I just wish that we had this for every classroom," she said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Schools test instant electronic grading system 09/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 4:51pm]
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