With the January 2012 administration of the Maryland High School Assessment came the innovation of online testing, as the NCIA Youth In Transition (YIT) School utilized its brand new computer lab. After a visit from an official from the Maryland State Department of Education who stressed the desire for schools statewide to make the shift from paper to online testing by 2013, Dr. Larry Norris ordered the necessary equipment to keep YIT School ahead of the technological curve. Our IT staff installed the appropriate software into five brand new Dell Optiplex 390 computers while our maintenance crew constructed carrels to house them in what had formerly been known as the Conference Room.
Our initial experience with the computer-based testing administration was pleasant and successful. This electronic format is more efficient in that the data is sent directly to the contractor without paperwork. It also was welcomed by the students who have grown up using computers and have more advanced technology than previous generations.
The very first testing class to complete the online version of the mandatory state assessments consisted of M’iessha Davis, DeAndre Rayner, Alphania Hampton and Corey Sherrod. These students were able to complete all three content areas of the test after receiving a brief outline of instructions. Upon reflection of the session, 11th grader Alphania Hampton stated, “I like testing on the computer. It’s just like regular testing, but you only have to click the mouse.” Corey Sherrod, a high school senior, said, “I like online testing. You don’t have to keep flipping pages.”
As the testing administrators proceed with future sessions, they will be able to expand participation to all students with the acquisition of new headphones to provide verbatim reading accommodations. Also between testing sessions, instructors will be able to utilize the computer lab for instruction and online and software based interactive activities. The construction of the NCIA YIT School computer lab is an exciting step in a more technological direction for our school community.