Get up to speed with what’s new in Questionmark Perception version 5

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

Would you like to get up to date with the most recent version of Questionmark Perception? Then sign up for our next hour-long web seminar explaining mobile delivery tools and other features in version 5, at  3 p.m. Eastern Time this Wednesday, December 15th.

Here are some of the subjects we’ll cover, along with participants’ questions:

  • Delivery platform
  • Participant experience
  • Deployment options
  • Enhanced security
  • Scalability
  • Auto-sensing and auto-sizing for mobile delivery
  • Translation management
  • Migration from version 4 to version 5
  • Support and self-help resources

Click here to register for the “What’s New” session. If Questionmark is completely new to you, we recommend signing up for an Orientation Webinar for an overview of authoring, scheduling, delivering and reporting about assessments.

Embedding Assessments in MovableType/TypePad

Embed a Questionmark Perception assessment, survey or quiz within a Movable Type/TypePad blog.

  • To see how this would look, see a snapshot of an assessment embedded within an iframe using Movable Type/TypePad.
  • Check out this how-to on our developer web site.
  • Movable Type is a popular weblog publishing system developed by the company Six Apart. TypePad is the hosted version of MovableType. It is possible to display an assessment in both versions of the blogging software. A Questionmark Assessment will have to be embedded in an IFrame in order to be published in the blog.

Criterion-referenced or standards-based exams are a positive factor in school performance

Posted by John Kleeman

One of the world’s most impressive testing efforts has just published its latest results.

Every 3 years, the OECD organizes an international testing effort, called PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that measures key competencies of 15-year olds in reading, mathematics and science.  In 2009, they assessed 470,000 students in 65 countries and used psychometric techniques to ensure that the test results were comparable internationally and statistically valid. By measuring competencies towards the end of  school life worldwide, and also correlating the answers with demographics, they provide a lot of evidence for what works in education and what doesn’t.

The results for the 2009 tests were published on Tuesday and are available here on the OECD website.  There are more than a thousand pages of analysis and the raw data is also available to download.  As well as being interesting in their own right, the PISA results also show an example of how to analyze results from assessments, particularly the way that they correlate results with demographic data to provide meaning.

The headline news is that the best performance in the world was from the Shanghai region of China, with the strongest countries as a whole being  South Korea and Finland. You may have seen some headlines in your local news. For example, the New York Times reported US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as saying: “We have to see this as a wake-up call … The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”  The BBC reports that the United Kingdom has fallen in the years 2000 and 2009 in maths from 8th to 28th and in science from 4th to 16th, with the OECD saying that the United Kingdom school performance is about average in the world and asking “whether the UK thinks that ‘average’ is good enough?” Some other countries are proud: the Edmonton Journal reports that students in Alberta, Canada, performed amongst the best in the world.

I’ve been trying to read between the lines and two things have struck me.

One is that OECD has found there is a substantial correlation between teacher salaries and educational results. Countries that pay their teachers a higher amount (relative to other workers) get better educational results.  As can be seen in the graph below, this has much more impact than total expenditure or class size.

Graph showing correlation of various factors to reading performance (from OECD PISA 2009 results). Copyright OECD

Although OECD is careful to state that they can measure correlations, not cause and effect, it would seem that good, well-rewarded teachers are critical for good learning. I’m reminded of the famous writer Arthur C. Clarke who said, “Any teacher who can be replaced by a machine should be!” Effective teaching gets results.

Another conclusion from the OECD is that in countries that use standards-based external examinations, students tend to do better overall.  The OECD defines standards-based external examinations as being examinations that focus on a specific school subject and assess a major portion of what students studying this subject are expected to know or be able to do and that define performance relative to an external standard, not relative to other students in the classroom or school. Such examinations also have real consequences for the students’ progression or certification in the education systems.

As you can see in the diagram below, these standards-based (or criterion referenced) assessments significantly correlate with better reading performance internationally, though more general use of other standardized assessments has less impact.

Graph showing correlation of various factors to reading performance (from OECD PISA 2009 results). Copyright OECD

It’s great to see testing technology used to inform decision makers in the way that PISA does.

Questionmark’s white paper, Assessments through the Learning Process, includes information about criterion-referenced tests and how to use them.

Podcast: Training and Certifying Aerospace Technicians at SpaceTEC®


Posted by Joan Phaup

Brevard Community College in Florida is the home of the SpaceTEC® National Resource Center for Aerospace Technical Education, which provides provides  professional certifications for U. S. Aerospace Technicians who work in civil, defense and commercial organizations nationwide.

I spoke recently with SpaceTEC® Certification Manager Dave Fricton about this program, which involves 13 partner colleges in 10 states.  We talked about the value of having an industry-endorsed credential for entry-level technicians and how exams hosted by Questionmark enable candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of such topics as applied mechanics, and aerospace safety.

You’re invited to read our case study about this and to listen in on our conversation in this podcast.

Today’s the day for early-bird Questionmark Users Conference registration

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

As we build the program for the Questionmark 2011 Users Conference in Los Angeles, we are also building a list of eager participants. Those who have signed up so far have saved $200 on registration. You can, too, if you register today — our first early-bird registration deadline!

Here are just a few reasons to attend this conference, to be held March 15 – 18 at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel downtown:

  • Maximize the value of your investment in assessment technologies and services
  • Smooth your transition to Questionmark Perception version 5
  • Attend training sessions that will improve your effectiveness in using Questionmark
  • See the product roadmap and influence future developments
  • Network with other Questionmark users and hear their case studies
  • Drop in on the Questionmark Techs and get your questions answered

Here’s what participants in the 2010 Users Conference have to say about it. Heed their advice and sign up today!