What happens when test takers disengage?

What happens when test takers disengage? Hear from the experts - TLG-IMG-02272020

The best assessments are only effective and reliable if students are engaged and trying their best. But we know that’s not always the case.

Sometimes students zip through a test, selecting answers without reading the questions. It’s called rapid guessing, and this behavior often leads to unreliable results that don’t tell the full story about a student’s capabilities. It may even land them in programs for interventions they do not need.

A tale as old as time

Rapid guessing isn’t new, of course. What is changing is the technology students use to take assessments, which can make it easier for educators to see when a student isn’t engaged.

Technology is also making it easier to reach a student while they’re taking a test, instead of approaching them about it after, when the test may be little more than a distant memory for them. And when there’s nothing that can be done to reengage the student.

Research into test taking behavior is serving as an important piece to the puzzle as well. Working hand in hand with technology, it’s making it possible to do quite a lot to keep students focused on an assessment. And when students are engaged, results are more accurate and less instructional time is lost.

Reengagement is possible

One big change to MAP® Growth™ this year, and a perfect example of technology and research coming together, is our new auto-pause feature. MAP Growth now pauses when it detects a student is rapid guessing.

Technology is […] making it easier to reach a student while they’re taking a test.

You may recall meeting our friend and NWEA colleague Slow Down Sloth on Teach. Learn. Grow. last summer. He’ll appear on a student’s screen if he detects rapid guessing and gently remind kids to take their time. Meanwhile, the test proctor will get an alert that a student has shown evidence of disengagement.

Alerting a proctor is a critical part of reengaging a student. As Steven Wise mentioned in our earlier post on proctor tips, many proctors think they shouldn’t ever intervene. While that’s true of a state test, the rules are different when the goal of an assessment is to determine what kids know and are ready to learn next, which is precisely what MAP Growth is designed to do.

“They think they are not allowed to intervene,” Steve says. “But that’s exactly what we want them to do. If a student is disengaged, you should do something about it.”

[W]hen a proctor and student can talk when disengagement has occurred, instead of after, there’s an opportunity to save a testing event.

Knowing that a student is struggling gives the proctor a chance to check in and determine the cause. Maybe a student is struggling with a test because they’re not feeling well, are anxious, or are having trouble understanding the questions. Whatever the reason, when a proctor and student can talk when disengagement has occurred, instead of after, there’s an opportunity to save a testing event that might otherwise go to waste.

Attend our webinar

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Our researchers are fired up to share their findings on test engagement with fellow educators.

In the latest webinar in our thought leadership series, What happens when test takers disengage?, Drs. Nate Jensen and Steven Wise will come together to talk about their research and discuss what rapid guessing and disengagement mean for educators, both in the classroom and at the administrative level.

They’ll also dig into the features and capabilities we use to monitor and mitigate test disengagement, which are all exclusive to MAP Growth.

Join us Thursday, March 19, at 10 a.m. PST to learn more about this pressing issue and connect with the experts on the leading edge of this research.

We’ve been monitoring developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and believe it’s important to focus on slowing and containing the spread of the virus. We’ve postponed our webinar on student test engagement and will update this blog post when we have a new date.

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