A Unique Assessment Management Platform
What is qAssess?
qAssess (pronounced “que-assess”) is a unique assessment management software-as-a-service (SaaS) for locally printing, scanning, and scoring your performance-based (PB) and constructed-response (CR) items and assessment programs. The primary goal of qAssess is to use computers to do what they do best—managing and processing data—while using paper-based assessments that work best for students to show their work, draw out their critical thinking skills, and demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter.
While PB and CR assessments are helpful in showing teachers, students, and parents what the student knows and can do, these types of assessments require a tremendous amount of work to manage the flow of paper, provide training of human readers or teachers to score, score the papers, ensure reliability in the scoring, and provide effective and timely feedback. Rather than eliminate these types of items from your assessment program—and typically revert back to using just multiple-choice items because they are quick and easy to score—use qAssess to help manage all of these steps and provide an effective and efficient paper-based PB and CR assessment. Educational Data Systems has been providing assessment services and designing assessment systems to education for over 40 years—who better to provide a system to assist teachers, schools, and districts administer an effective and reliable PB and CR assessment program?
What exactly is an SaaS?
qAssess is software that is hosted on the Educational Data Systems managed cloud service. It is available on a subscription basis for school, district, county office, or consortium use. Rather than buying software, loading it onto a network server, updating all of the computers that need it, and then repeating the process in a few years as a new update comes along, qAssess is maintained by us and run on our Microsoft Azure cloud servers. We update and push revisions to qAssess as new functions and services are developed. You get enhancements and updates automatically and at no additional cost. Through the organization’s annual subscription, teachers and administrators receive secure login accounts that give them access to modules of the program based on the goals of the assessment. (Read our case study below to see how a consortium of 35 school districts use qAssess to help manage their annual performance-task summative assessment.) qAssess is not an online testing platform—students do not login or participate in the qAssess SaaS except to take their tests on the paper assessments produced out of qAssess.
Why Paper Performance Task and Constructed-Response Assessments?
Taking tests on computer is more and more prevalent, even for high-stakes assessments; however, the results are mixed (at best) as to the impact of testing on computers vs. testing on paper. It is our belief, and one that is shared by many educators and content specialists, that the more complex the PB or CR item—like a geometry problem or a science performance task—the harder it is for the student to effectively answer the item and show his or her work and throughout processes. Consider these recent news articles headlines:
- Kids tend to score a little bit higher on paper and pencil, and [the differences show up] a bit more frequent on open-ended questions that require more comprehensive responses and subjects like geometry, where it’s a little easier to see and manipulate [problems] on paper than on a computer
- Results showed that the computer-based mathematics test was significantly harder statistically than the paper-based test…suggesting that degree of familiarity with computer may matter when taking a computer based mathematics test
- When a student …is generating an essay, their cognitive resources are focused on their word choices, the sentence structure, and how to make their sentences more interesting and varied – not trying to find letters on a keyboard, or the technical aspects of the computer
- Elementary and middle school students’ test scores were negatively affected by a computer-based exam interface…Non-native English Speakers in the study also performed better on paper-and-pencil exams than they did on either of two computer-based testing formats
- Analyses by test providers and other organizations have pointed to evidence of small but significant “device effects” for tests administered in some grades and subjects on certain types of assessment items.
- Rhode Island students who took…exams by computer tended to score lower than those who took the exams by paper…
Some assessments will be very effective online, but others will be more effective and fairer to students on paper. For now, until technology doesn’t get in the way of learning or assessing, qAssess offers help with the management of paper-based PB and CR assessments for either your summative or formative assessments. One last thing about paper: it is accessible. Technology is great—sometimes, but it is not always accessible. Paper is accessible
- By teachers who want to give quizzes several times a week
- By students who may not have mastered the computer, especially for complex or long responses or for younger students or students who have special needs
- When needed and without the support of an IT specialist who must set up tablets or a computer lab to accommodate your assessment when you want to give it
Paper is practical and easy and effective and available to everyone when needed. (See our presentation on this topic given at the California Educational Research Association 2018 conference.)
Features of qAssess™
✓ A surprisingly affordable subscription model SaaS available to consortia, school districts, and schools.
✓ Interfaces with your district student information system or manually entered student data (e.g., a classroom teacher’s roster) to pre-print student information such as student name, teacher, school, grade, etc. onto paper tests.
✓ As a district- or school-wide platform, district and school administrators control access to student information and roles (i.e., district administrators, school administrators, teachers, and scorers). Users have access to only the information related to their role and their own students, ensuring student privacy.
✓ qAssess is an “empty” platform just waiting to receive your library of performance-based and constructed-response items and assessments. Your content libraries are built from your district, school, and classroom assessments and items. qAssess subscribers receive discounts to assessment content and pre-built libraries.
✓ Test items or full multi-page assessments are prepared as PDFs and contain unique scannable barcodes and marks that will be used by the program upon scanning.
✓ Assigned user roles determine the library of assessments viewable in qAssess. Teachers use their own quizzes and formative assessments for the classroom; school administrators provide district benchmarks or summative assessments and make them available to teachers; and district administrators make available district-wide assessments to schools and teachers.
✓ qAssess formats PDF documents ready to print on plain-paper locally scannable test forms.
✓ Self-service functions to upload and prepare completed tests for scoring. Scanning of student responses is done locally on multi-function (i.e., copy, scan, etc.) copiers. Easily and quickly upload a scanned PDF of your students’ completed work. qAssess then prepares student responses for human scoring.
✓ For high-stakes summative assessments, the online scoring training module allows scorers to view, train, practice, and calibrate to score your performance-based and constructed-response items.
✓ Scoring rubrics and example test items viewable online to users.
✓ Randomly distributed anonymized student work to scorers through scoring queue
✓ On-screen scoring interface that presents full pages of work (or multiple pages if the Task spans multiple pages) for evaluation and on-screen score input
✓ Optional scoring features including score marks (like correct, partial, incorrect) that overlays on-screen onto the student work; comments about the work that appear on the Student Work Report, tags that identify the paper for searching and filtering, screen options such as white on black or black on white for ease of reading and enlarged viewing of student work.
✓ View raw score student results in real-time as they are scored by teachers or scorers.
✓ Intuitive and easy to use interface with extensive Help screens and documents for your users.
What Types of Assessments and Items Can qAssess Manage?
qAssess is designed to handle a variety of item types such as
- Writing assessments where students produce a written response (an essay, paragraph, or sentence, or even single letters) to a prompt
- Mathematics performance tasks where students construct graphs, draw lines, create boxes and triangles and show their thought processes as they answer the questions
- Word problems that contain multiple steps or questions where a student’s response builds from the first to the last question
- Science performance tasks where students work through experiments and document results in graphs, drawings, and thesis summaries
Our expert and experienced educational services software architects and programmers designed and developed qAssess over a ten-year period, obtaining district administrator, content expert, and assessment coordinator input to its design and testing. It provides a tool for administrators, teachers, and content specialists to assist in the paper assessment process, saving time and providing information in a more timely and easier to use manner. For the last two years, the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative’s MAC (Mathematics Assessment Collaborative) has used qAssess to manage the pre-identification, printing, training, scoring, and reporting of the MAC/MARS performance-based summative assessment. See more about our partnership with the MAC/MARS program by selecting the Case Study button below.