Asking students and schools to switch from paper-and-pencil to online assessments does affect students’ performance, but problems might be more short-lived than some educators fear, finds a study by the American Institutes of Research.
In the first year of online testing for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, researchers found that Massachusetts students across grades 3-8 showed the equivalent of five months less academic progress in math and as much as 11 months less in English/language arts compared with the performance of students who took the test on paper.
But once schools and students had a year of online testing under their belts, the test-mode effects shrunk by half in English/language arts and by a third in math, found the researchers.
Districts were allowed to volunteer to move to online testing in 2015 or 2016. About half—mostly high-performing districts—did so. The study compared how similar students at the same schools performed on different versions of the assessment. The state results were statistically adjusted to account for the mode effects in its testing.
A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2018 edition of Education Week as Online Testing