AZ may move standardized tests online

Five middle schools to test online tests with an eye towards moving the whole state online later this year.

Test taking is going digital in Arizona, reports the Arizona Star. With a nod from both Gov. Janet Napolitano and Tom Horne, the state schools chief, the standardized AIM test that all school children must take is going to be held online.

Thus far, five Arizona middle schools are participating in a pilot project, and there is hope to take it statewide by spring 2007.

The advantages of online testing is instant results, allowing teachers and counselors to quickly provide tutoring to struggling students, officials say.

"I've asked the testing company to give us a pilot program for online testing where, if the students have their own laptops, they test online," said Horne, who is starting his second term as superintendent of public instruction.

The implementation of putting the AIM test online goes hand in hand with the state schools chief's request to provide every student in Arizona with a laptop. The initiative asks for $2.5 million in funding from the Legislature for the first phase of that initiative.

"The development of the technology is such that you have to proceed carefully and successfully because it's one of those things that if you do it too fast it can get messed up, and if it gets messed up then we have severe consequences because we rely a lot on these test results," said Horne.

Student David Barton, 14 and an eighth-grader at Esperero Canyon Middle School in Catalina Foothills Unified School District, doesn't necessarily see the advantage of putting AIM online and would prefer to wait for his results so he can take the test the current way.

"It sounds a lot more convenient to have you do it on the computer, but it would be harder for those of us who can't type fast," he said. "Writing and math would be kind of hard on the computer."

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