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Test Prep Software in Connecticut

4th Generation CMT Test Preparation Software For All School Districts In Connecticut, Grades 2 - 8.

A group of local experienced individuals from the assessment field, have partnered with CT teachers and specialists to design a CMT specific assessment tool that can be used in schools throughout the year to determine a student's readiness for the CMT in the spring.

This computer based assessment tool provides three pre-made assessments in each subject area. Immediate reports are generated, pinpointing student strengths and needs relating directly to Connecticut State Standards. Teachers can focus on areas in need of improvement from the beginning of the school year.

Customized tests can be created, administered and scored. Teachers can access our item bank of CMT questions or create their own questions, to create mini tests that focus on specific problematic skills.

This blather is from the website of Blue Ribbon Testing. On this site, you can also read a mission statement but you can't find a list of the owners, managers, or board of directors.

Research shows that it is often the test preparation rather than the test itself that stresses children.

This program lends itself to the stress due to the self-correcting component that is part of the touted strengths...children can work toward the correct answer. Which can lower expectations...

My favorite: When responding to a question regarding the reason Anne Frank and her family went into hiding, one student wrote, "To escape the persecution suffered by Jewish people under the Nazi regime."

Her answer was marked wrong.

I laughed and said the computer wasn't prepared for such a sophisticated answer. Then I prompted her to guess what the computer might understand. She wrote "They thought the Germans would kill them." She received full credit.

When asked which response was the more descriptive, the student knew her first was the better of the two answers. This led to an interesting class discusson.

Last year Blue Ribbon said they were going to address concerns, including that the scoring for short answer/narrative response was 'around 65%' accurate. So this year I wrote, asking what the accuracy is. Here is the response:

The open ended scoring is the same on the Lan Wan version of the program. You may or may not know that this year we introduced an Internet only version. We are hoping to phase out the Lan Wan. While we have the two versions running they need to be compatible so the scoring on each has to be the same. The reason that the accuracy is at 65% is because we are limited by what we can do on the Lan Wan.

We are looking at upgrading the short answer scoring on the Internet version and this will hopefully be improved by September. The Internet allows us to implement different tools and we hope that this will increase the accuracy. We have also added the teacher override of the short answer computer scoring, which I don't know if you have had a chance to use, but this helps out a lot until the new version is released.

Anna Sturrock
Managing Director
Blue Ribbon LLC

What asked for accountability with specific questions, Blue Ribbon steps back and offers analysis with the hope of a "better product tomorrow..." This program was sold to our school district (CT) as a 'pilot.' The many flaws identified by classroom teachers were waved off because the scores were for classroom use only.

And now all data is collected on a district data base...flaws and all.

When I challenged this Blue Ribbon program last year, as a teacher, and my concerns were verified by the company, (student responses could ramble and if student used embedded language, the answer would be deem correct, students with extensive vocabulry, who had written well developed responses, were scored as providing wrong responses because the vocabulary used was not embedded in response code), all communications regarding the issue stopped and I was informed by administration that they had made a decision.

As Mr. Bush and CO. push for a technological data base that will 'spread sheet' national education, companies, like Blue Ribbon will continue to pursue school $$$$$ that would be better spent elsewhere, while offering a product that promotes built as self check for students and quick results for staff, without acknowledging the inaccuracies and the NEED for oversight by staff to check every child's response.

NCLB certainly is having an impact on curriculum and how we teach children to think. Programs such as Blue Ribbon are frightening because they remove the human element and bind the thoughts and expression of children to a few preprogrammed catch phrases.

— K. C. Pierce




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