One of the benefits of an online test preparation program is its ability to manage student performance data automatically and provide the results for a variety of purposes critical to learning. For administra­tors and teachers, immediate access to performance data means that both individualized interventions and adjustments to classroom instruction can be planned and implemented in a timely fashion. For students, having a progress report in real time means being able to relate progress to recent instruction. Automatic data collection and analysis can play an important role in determining performance trends in larger groups of students and in suggesting how students will perform on annual state assessments.

Administrators and educators understand the importance of timely access to student performance data in order to manage the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). However, the ability of schools and districts to collect, manage and provide access to the data can be severely hampered by the time lag between when the data is collected and when it is available to the teachers, students, and administrators. For the information to be usable, it must be available immediately so that intervention can be initiated long before test day.

For many teachers, student assessment data comes from the annual state tests and other in-depth assessments given throughout the year. The emphasis on achieving test scores that contribute to the school’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goal often requires devoting additional class time to test preparation and leaves little time for true instruction. In addition to teaching the core curriculum, assessing each student on a range of skills throughout the year becomes a monumental task.

There are both paper and electronic instruments that can collect and assess student performance. However, browser-based online assessments with a concentrated focus on skills aligned to state testing standards have many advantages since they require little training to implement and the data collection is automatic and timely.

Online test preparation programs automate many of the time-intensive tasks of data collection, interpretation, and reporting. Pretests quickly identify problem areas so that students can refresh skills they have learned earlier in the year. Refreshing or practicing the focused group of skills measured by state testing standards as opposed to the more comprehensive curriculum objectives maximizes the investment of time for both student and teacher. It is not enough just to collect and manage the data, however. In order to benefit instruction, it must link specific standards’ mastery to individual students. Online test preparation complements core instruction by allowing for extended practice, even outside traditional school hours, and quickly identifying any problem areas in need of more direct instruction.

Students benefit from online test preparation because they too receive immediate feedback. Rather than waiting to see their test scores days, even weeks, later, students see how they are doing on every problem, every test, every practice, and overall. Students like to chart their progress and enjoy the sense of accomplishment as they add to their list of skills mastered. If they get a question incorrect, they know immediately and receive feedback. If they get it right, they know that too and receive reinforcement. Students can proudly show their parent(s) or guardians their own site and individual progress reports with instant access from their own home. Parents feel more involved in their child’s education by having access to this data.

Online test preparation that is linked to state testing standards provides a great number of advantages to classroom teachers. Even the speed and accuracy of the data can be used as a tool for more intensive assessments of instruction efficacy. Any intervention – whether simple review or additional direct instruction – can be done immediately, allowing students the maximum amount of time prior to testing to master required skills.

Because the data collection and interpretation are automatic, teachers and administrators have anytime access to the most recent results. Also, the creation of reports for educators or parents is simply a matter of pressing a button. The school principal has immediate access to the data, providing another vantage point from which administrators can either spot trends at a macro level or dive more deeply into the data. There are multiple benefits to sharing the data with students and their parents. In the push for greater accountability, the reports pinpoint which skills have been mastered and which need more practice. Sharing this information with students and families is empowering as it provides both a place to focus and an action plan.

With online test preparation programs, teachers have immediate access to students’ performance and how they are likely to perform on their state tests. Online test preparation that complements core curriculum instruction automatically evaluates student skill mastery, providing real-time information that can modify or confirm a teacher’s instruction plan. From the principal’s perspective, implementing online test preparation standardizes the way that student performance data is handled and applied, making assessments about school performance easier and more valid.

Online test preparation automates the cumbersome work of collecting, interpreting, and looking for the application of the information to individual students. The beauty of online test preparation is that it can support one student, one class, one grade level, or the entire school. It frees teachers to concentrate on covering the course content; provides information about student progress for each state testing standard; and provides students, schools, and families the opportunity to intervene when necessary in order to help students achieve academic success.