Testing goes wireless in Arizona

Marie is in the seventh grade at Pine Junior High School. She starts every morning by text messaging her friends on her cell phone. She continues through breakfast, one hand spooning cereal, the other texting. During the day, she spends time on the computer, playing videogames, checking email, and watching videos. At the top of her birthday wish list is a new Blackberry.

Meanwhile, CTB/McGraw-Hill has developed Acuity UnWired - new student response device (“clicker”) integration software for the Company’s Acuity InFormative Assessment™ solution. Acuity UnWired provides an alternative to bubble responses on scannable answer sheets, which is very appealing to students like Marie who prefer wireless devices to paper and pencil. Similar in size and layout to a television remote control, clickers are intuitive and easy to use. The teacher’s receiver is a small unit that plugs directly into a computer’s USB port, and the system works with clickers from either eInstruction or Qwizdom.

Acuity UnWired has been demonstrated in pilot projects in five states, with universally successful results. Students noted almost unanimously that they preferred clickers not only to paper and pencil, but also to online testing. Teachers reported a high level of comfort and ease of use, and district officials were very happy with the demonstrations.

According to Joe O’Reilly, Executive Director of Student Achievement Support for Mesa Public Schools in Arizona, “Giving teachers the ability to get immediate feedback, without having to grade a pile of papers, is very powerful. For example, as one teacher watched her students answer questions on a test, she pointed to one question on her computer screen and said, ‘They should know that.’ So, when the test was done, she immediately started re-teaching. This truly expands the power of Acuity in the classroom and its strength as a formative tool to immediately inform classroom instruction. Teachers, who have taken our course on using the clickers and Acuity, report that students are doing better, the instructional activities that can be assigned engage students, and some students have actually asked for more formative tests to show how they are doing.”