For many families, virtual schools provide invaluable educational opportunities for their children that they could never receive at a local public school. From developing advanced technology skills to gaining access to dynamic, multimedia activities, students enrolled in virtual schools learn in ways many of us never imagined as children.
Since these students spend every school day in a virtual classroom environment, it only stands to reason that all of their assessments would take place virtually as well. And while both formative and summative assessments take place online regularly throughout the school year, many virtual schools switch to an on-site format when it comes to taking standardized tests.
After spending a whole school year online, it may seem to some to be a huge step backward when they suddenly have to take standardized tests in person.
For one, taking a paper and pencil test feels completely outside the norm of how these students typically complete their assignments. And this format may even lead to lower scores simply because virtual students aren’t used to the on-site testing format. Just the new environment, the sound of shuffling papers, and being in a room full of their peers is distracting enough.
Plus, many families must arrange transportation to and from testing when they never had to schedule that before. And that can cause a huge headache for families with working parents, younger children, and those relying on public transportation.
And the inconvenience of on-site testing is not the only concern virtual schools must face. School districts around the country spend on average $1.7 billion per year just to administer standardized tests to students. That’s an average of $65 to $114 per student which goes straight into the pockets of large testing companies like Harcourt and Pearson.
These corporations make profits in the upper millions from test administration alone each year, and it’s the school districts that foot the bill. And for virtual schools, they have the added inconvenience of paying building, staff, and travel costs when they switch to on-site for standardized testing.
So why don’t more virtual schools deliver standardized tests in a virtual format?
Educational companies, such as Jigsaw Interactive, have created secure virtual testing rooms for just that purpose. Schools that partner with Jigsaw have access to both virtual classrooms for their teachers as well as virtual testing rooms that are entirely secure and significantly more affordable than on-site testing.
With the help of a virtual testing room, teachers can view all of their students at once. They can hold a private meeting with any student at the touch of a button to answer questions, and they can continue to monitor the test security, making sure that no cheating ever takes place and that test information isn’t stolen or shared. In summation, virtual testing solves all of the problems schools face when preparing to administer standardized tests. Not only does it save virtual schools a lot of money, using secure virtual testing rooms eliminates distractions as well as the need for traveling to a testing site.