Simulating A Testing Environment With Google Apps For Education

lightgrenadeWith PARCC looming on the horizon in New Jersey, many educators are trying to simulate its unique testing environment with frustrating results. The PARCC will be totally online and feature many questioning and answering methods students have not seen before. Skills like drag-and-drop, window pane, and computer-based tool (protractor, ruler, calculator) manipulation will be new. Understanding drop-down menus, fill-ins, and check box style questions and typing efficiently will be required. The PARCC will place multiple texts side-by-side or in a separate window, so familiarity with scrolling techniques and alt+tabbing will be imperative. Short cuts for Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V) and Find (Ctrl+F) will help students work more efficiently while students with special needs will have to get use to accommodations like text-to-speech, speech-to-text, in-line reader, answer masking, and more. Understand, we aren’t even talking about content! We are talking about the test itself! Kids continue to struggle to get use to the harsh testing environment, so while many teachers have been turning to different websites to help them create PARCC-like assessments, I’ve turned to Google Apps for Education to make my own.

My PARCC-like assessment

My PARCC-like assessment uses Google Forms to create the testing platform, Google Drawings for drag-and-drop and digital manipulation, and Google Sites to create the testing environment. Follow the links on the bottom to work your way through the assessment which is meant to show what is possible using GAFE.

There are some things going on behind the scenes that you should know about to get a better picture:

1) Each Form/section students are expected to answer in is actually a different Form, so this assessment has five different Forms in all. The cool thing: even though there are five different Forms, all the responses go into one Sheet (though different pages). This makes it pretty easy to grade with Flubaroo. I’m putting the final touches on making it even easier to grade and will release it soon. The below .gif will show you how to change the response destination of a Form, in case you want to experiment. In the .gif, you’ll see I select the Master Sheet for the Amelia Earhart assessment.


2) If you create the assessment within your Google Edu domain, students will have the option to open the text for easier reading. Below is what it will look like to students. This is likely how it will be on PARCC.


3) I use Read&Write for Google to simulate PARCC-like accommodations for students. Read&Write for Google is a great, free Chrome extension that will simulate text-to-speech and in-line reading for students. The paid version has an awesome highlight feature as well as a regular dictionary AND picture dictionary. Both are amazing for ELL students. The best part? The amazing people at Text Help will give teachers the paid version of Read&Write for free! Just follow this link and fill out the form! Make sure to thank them!

4) Google Drawings for digital manipulation is great in theory, but I’m struggling with the execution. I have students make a copy of the Drawing and then drop the link back into the Google Form for the teacher to grade. It’s a bit clunky, but works especially well if a teacher just does one per assessment. If you have any advice on how to create a better work flow so students can practice with manipulation like in the example below, let me know!

Even if you’re not a PARCC state, play around with my PARCC-like assessment to get an idea of the different testing environments made possible by GAFE. I’m always looking for ways to improve, so feel free to give me some feedback or ideas. Either way, I hope this helps you think about how we can best prepare our kids for the new types of testing they will be taking part in… whether we like it or not.

Until Next Time,