One year ago, our district had a decision to make. We could continue using our already paid for assessment from a another provider or we could switch over to our new subscription with Discovery Assessment. The decision was not hard to make. Discovery Assessment won. Actually, our students won.
From where I sit as District Technology Director, I am in favor of the assessment program that serves our students best. To be perfectly honest, I am MOST in favor of the one that provides the best for students AND is the easiest to prepare for student testing. Discovery Assessment won. Actually, our students won.
There are a several reasons why I really like Discovery Assessment.
Reason #1: This reason is from a preparation perspective. Discovery Assessment was easy to set up. Uploading student information was fairly simple. Templates are available for assistance in uploading large amounts of student users, teachers, and class rosters. Download the template, fill it in, and upload. Access to the newly uploaded information is not immediately available, so make sure you leave yourself a buffer of a couple of days to make sure it is uploaded. If you upload around the beginning of the school year, give yourself more time as they will be swamped with districts uploading data.
Reason #2: Another reason why I like Discovery Assessment is best seen by describing the process of using our previous product. With our last assessment tool, I would physically head back to my office at night to upload the testing results for the day. You had to guarantee that no one was actively taking a test and that no computer was left on that had the testing program active. To upload the results, I had to use a Windows based computer. We are an Apple district. You start the upload of testing data and wait. You hope no errors would occur, but rarely was that the case. I had a phone brought over to the work station so that I could be on the phone with customer support to assist with troubleshooting. This process occurred nightly during the testing window of several weeks.
I have yet to be involved with the uploading of test results to Discovery. Nice.
Reason #3: With our previous assessment tool, our testing of only 30 students at one time in a building would test our network performance as it was server based. When we went to two buildings testing as the very same time, our network would reduce to a crawl. A phone call to customer support generated this nugget that was not shared when signing up with this group: you will want a separate server dedicated to each building for testing purposes. Really? Seriously?
We have successfully implemented Discovery Assessment this fall with 5 elementary buildings. Each testing period had the potential to have 60 laptop computers simultaneously connecting to our wireless network, in EACH building. No problem with Discovery Assessment. Nice.
Reason #4: This reason does not deal with the technology aspect of testing. Discovery Assessment offers assessment options very similar to other testing organizations. You find diagnostic testing with any group. What sets Discovery Assessment apart from the others is the superb, integrated prescriptive resources aimed at improving weaknesses in the testers. While determining areas of weakness is nice, it is of little use without a plan for attacking the areas of low performance. Discovery Resources allow you to drill down into specific standards and questions to find appropriate resources aimed at strengthening those areas. Those customizable resources area accessible with a simple click. Nice.
I’m glad we switched to Discovery Assessment. My workload is lighter. Beyond that, with the resources offered beyond the actual testing, our students learn more as a result of using Discovery Assessment. Nice.