NY schools begin on-site electronic test scoring

Several New York State school districts have begun using an on-site electronic scoring system as part of their Grades 3-8 standardized test programs. The Educational Assessment Scoring Environment (EASE System™) was developed by the Education Division of Optimum Solutions Corporation (www.oscworld.com), designers of the data capture technology being used by the United States Census Bureau for the 2010 Census.

Throughout May and June the EASE System was used by the Yonkers School District, the Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, and the New York City Charter Schools for the grading of the New York State Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics and the Grade 8 Social Studies assessment tests. In doing so, these schools became the first in the state to use any form of electronic scoring system in standardized testing programs.

Joan Flig, an Educational Assessment Consultant who supervises the scoring site of 25,000 New York State ELA and Math constructed response test booklets for the New York City Charter Schools Collaborative noted that, “This day marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to identify and deploy the very best performing, most flexible and cost-effective electronic reporting solution that can be easily rolled out to school districts statewide in system configurations that are scaled perfectly to meet the needs of every size school district."

Under development for the last three years, the EASE System comprises seventeen integrated components, with the four most important being a Scoring Environment, a Workflow Interface, Closed End Mark Sense Processing Software, and embedded Data Cleaning, Formatting and Reporting ‘C’ like Programming Language.

The Scoring Environment features an embedded ruler and protractor tool that eliminates the need to handle devices required for scoring certain math questions. The Workflow Interface allows for real-time monitoring to track the rate of scoring, which allows for estimates of the time left in the scoring process. The patented Mark Sense Software is based on the idea of finding answers to questions rather than individual marks, while the Answer Recognition Engine discriminates between erasures, cross-outs, and real marks with an accuracy rate better than 99%.

Finally, the embedded data cleaning, formatting and reporting Programming Language allows schools to add instructions to the EASE System that can clean data based on user-defined rules, provide for the review of key or questionable data, format data to match additional output formats, archive images and question snippets in varied formats and naming conventions, as well as report questionable answer patterns.

Optimum Solutions Corporation provides a management team that oversees the entire process and is able to provide a team of accredited New York State teachers to complete the test scoring.

According to John Harrison, Executive Vice President of Optimum Solutions Corporation, OSC plans to initially concentrate the introduction of the EASE System in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. A nationwide expansion of the marketing program will begin in 2012.