Putnam prepares for online testing



For the Daily Mail

WINFIELD — Putnam County students will begin standardized testing next week, but the process will be new for students and teachers.

This year’s testing will be done entirely online on computers at the schools.

Kanawha County began testing last week and ran into technology problems. Putnam officials said they’ve been running tests in hopes that they won’t have similar problems.

“We have given our schools an opportunity to do a practice test between now and the time for the test, and we think it’s going to go OK,” Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said Monday evening after a Putnam County Board of Education meeting.

This is the last year students will take WESTEST II. Next year the state will switch to Smarter Balanced, but that test will also be delivered online.

Although the switch to online testing presents some hurdles, it’s also given counties a bigger time window to conduct testing.

Counties used to have two weeks to complete testing, including make-ups, but because testing has to be staggered so students can access computers, counties now have four weeks.

In Putnam County, officials took advantage of that to change the way they administer the test.

Students will take one of four subject tests per week during the four-week window, starting with social studies next week followed by science, then language arts and math the last week.

That means the children will get instructional time during testing weeks.

“It allows us more instructional time,” Hatfield said. “See, social studies and science don’t count on your state rankings, so we’re going to start those two first, and that will give us two additional weeks of instruction for language arts and three more weeks of instruction for math before they take their test on those areas.”

In other news, the Putnam County Board of Education heard a presentation Monday evening from Cindy Dearborn of Huntington Museum of Art about the museum’s work with students in Putnam County.

The museum offers programming for students both in the schools and at the museum as well as professional development for county art teachers at no cost to the county.

Dearborn said students from Scott Teays Elementary are planning to visit the museum later this week, and Poca Elementary is planning a trip in May.

“I think at least 16 or 18 of our schools out of 23 they’ve been involved with in some fashion,” Hatfield said. “I think it’s a valuable resource, and we appreciate their partnership.”

The board meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at the school system’s central office in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.

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