Online aids give Willis students edge in testing
Study Island pinpoints weaknesses so teachers can focus on them in class
Willis Intermediate School teachers are using online study aids to further prepare students for the rigors of state testing.
Josh Page was a math teacher for four years at Willis before assuming his role as the school's assistant principal. Page said as a teacher, he used online study aids to help prepare students for standardized testing.
Through the use of Study Island, a web-based program aligned to state math standards, teachers were able to home in on students' problem areas, he said.
"The program provides teachers with real data of how students are doing," Page said. "Teachers can then adjust the lesson to fit what students need."
Once a week, students are able to visit a computer lab in the school and practice math problems while their teacher monitors them online.
Some teachers assign this time in the lab as regular homework time, since they are practicing problems from their math lessons.
In addition to practicing the problems, the program has educational games based on state testing standards and indicators.
If a student misses a problem, the program can play videos for the student so they can learn how to solve the problem correctly.
Students also can compete with each other on math-related games and compare their high scores with other students from all over the state.
For the teacher, the program breaks down how students are doing with certain math skills or principles, such as fractions.
Page said this helps the teacher identify which areas students are struggling with in order to cover those areas in more depth in the lesson plan.
"The best thing about the program is how it can identify one skill or one area that needs to be worked on," he said. "Teachers are also able to monitor the students while they are working and can address needs right then."
Students are required to take the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests in grades 3-8. The sixth grade is focused on math and reading, which is why Willis uses Study Island to practice on math standards.
"Students are assessed to make sure they are on grade level with their studies," Page said. "The tests also show how students are doing in relationship to other students."
In two years, Ohio will begin implementing Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career testing as the main assessment of students.
Page said 23 other states have signed up for the new testing program, which will assess students through an online module.
He said he thinks that by using tools such as Study Island, the school is beginning to prepare students for the future of assessments.
"Students would rather do things online than use paper and pencil," Page said. "They are of the generation where it's more fun and enjoyable for them to use a computer."
He said although online teaching aids are helpful, teachers are the key to preparing students for the tests.
"Our teachers do a great job at teaching the students where they are at and identifying areas for improvement," he said.
Students will take the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests in April.