Eau Claire schools prepare for standardized tests

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:10 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Standardized testing begins in March for the Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD). Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education is requiring public schools to administer standardized tests this school year. The department is letting schools change how the administer tests.

In Eau Claire, high school students will be taking standardized tests electronically for the first time. Ninth and 10th graders will take the ACT Aspire. Eleventh graders will take the ACT. Third through eighth graders will take the Wisconsin Forward Exam, which was already computerized.

The state, however, has adjusted this year’s Wisconsin Forward Exam.

“They took out one session of that test. So it’s about half of the test it has been in the past. The ACT Aspire test, the only one they cut back on is the writing portion and the ACT test will be exactly the way it has been in the past,” ECASD Director of Assessment Michelle Radtke said.

She said this year students will take standardized test in the cohorts they use for in-person learning.

“We are practicing social distancing just like we have in the past and so our A and B students will take it right within their classes like they run classes,” Radtke said. “Cohort C is going to be coming in on our Wednesdays with social distancing and masks needed during that time.”

She said the district will be using the same cleaning procedure as throughout the pandemic.

The district’s also added make-ups in case students are quarantining on their testing day.

Though juniors are taking their ACT on computers this year, ACT Vice President of State and Federal Programs Catherine Hofmann said results will count the same on college application.

“They usually do it in some type of computer lab or environment,” she said. “There are proctors in the room. It is on a secured, locked-down browser and it’s a secure, valid score. We have been doing it for several years.”

Despite the pandemic, Radkte said the assessment criteria isn’t changing. She adds it will be a good baseline when planning for next year.

Because all tests are computerized, results should come back in July instead of during the fall.

Eleventh graders will take the ACT the week of March 9. The ACT Aspire and Wisconsin Forward Exam will begin March 24 and continue through April.

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