Capitol Daily Memo: online testing bill SB 97 advances


Speaking to the Senate Education Standing Committee today, Senator Aaron Osmond proposed funding the implementation of summative and adaptive online testing for Utah’s K-12 public schools. SB 97, which passed out of committee with a vote of four in favor and three abstaining, is requesting $15 million of one-time grant funding and $5 million in ongoing funding to implement adaptive and online assessments.

The funds would cover software, computer and networking costs, and staff training. The State Board of Education would oversee the use and implementation of the funds, and grant recipients would be required to implement the assessment system by the 2014-15 school year. 

State Superintendent Larry Shumway said the implementation of adaptive and online assessments is the top budget priority for the state school board this year, even above allocating funds for class-size reduction. Superintendent Shumway said this system will allow the state to have the most comprehensive information necessary to evaluate students, teachers and curriculum, and to identify and treat specific gaps in teaching.

Senator Osmond said the implementation of this technology will form the foundation necessary for the public education system to comply with the Legislature’s demands for more accountability and assessment of teaching and learning in the state.

“The improved precision of this technology is incredible,” said Senator Howard Stephenson, a member of the committee. “You can enable a student to pinpoint exactly their competencies, either above or below the standard, and allow them to show what they do know as opposed to an arbitrary, static and limited paper bubble sheet test.”

This system will allow teachers to be much more prescriptive in identifying students’ weaknesses, and it will also allow administrators to evaluate much more accurately the effectiveness of a particular teacher in helping students advance in their learning, Senator Osmond said.