NMPED Successfully Delivers Over 500,000 End-of-Course Assessments with NMEPIC, the State’s Online Assessment Platform
In 2015, the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) decided to transition its End of Course (EOC) assessments from paper and pencil to online delivery. Like many states, NMPED was inspired by the benefits of online testing such as:
- Saving time through automated grading, receiving faster results
- Gaining access to consolidated data at the student, class or grade level
- Leveraging technology-enhanced items that provide additional options for students to demonstrate knowledge and problem-solving skills
While NMPED’s current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard, wasn’t originally purchased or implemented with the intent to serve as an assessment solution, it was a compelling option to bridge into online assessment. In the fall of 2015, NMPED conducted its first online testing cycle. Many EOC assessments were successfully delivered, yet several challenges were uncovered:
- The LMS didn’t track student or item data in a way that was actionable for NMPED
- Reports provided no insight into which questions students answered right or wrong
- Student assessment data was duplicated along with other test irregularities
- Test results weren’t delivered back to NMPED administrators, educators, or students in a timely manner
With many of New Mexico’s EOC assessments measuring Alternate Demonstrations of Competence, the timing of results and the data quality were critical. Not only did NMPED need to quickly and accurately determine if students were proficient enough to graduate or advance to the next grade level; they also needed insight into the performance of the items and their student’s progression against state standards. Neither were accomplished using an LMS to deliver statewide EOC Assessments.
In May 2016, the statewide LMS agreement with Blackboard ended. With little time, resources, and budget, NMPED had to act fast. They needed to find an assessment platform that could be deployed statewide, support high-stakes EOC testing, and integrate with their Student Teacher Accountability Reporting System (STARS) platform. The search was on… and many vendors stepped up to the plate to take a swing.
NMPED’s Superintendent and IT Leadership were heavily engaged with the Council of Chief State School Officers (“CCSSO”) and sought their advice and guidance. LearningMate and several other companies were recommended as potential solution providers. NMPED IT had previously demoed LearningMate’s assessment authoring and delivery frameworks for another project and were curious to see if the technologies would be a viable match for New Mexico’s EOC requirements.
The two organizations met to match capabilities to requirements and spent several full days discussing and strategizing. New Mexico now had several vendor options on the table and each carried both a risk and a reward. A final decision needed to be made. It was crunch time. At 4 am MT in the final week of June 2016, NMPED made their announcement. New Mexico’s Exam Platform for Informing Curriculum (NMEPIC) would be developed using LearningMate’s assessment authoring & delivery frameworks, then further customized to meet the state’s EOC requirements.
With EOC exams scheduled for November 2016, the real test would be how quickly LearningMate’s frameworks could be customized, implemented, and integrated with NMPED’s existing technologies; particularly, if the platform could be production-ready in time for student EOC assessments only 3.5 months later. This is where NMPED and LearningMate sought out the help of woman-owned systems integrator and solution provider, CB Technologies, who’s award-winning engineering team was sure to be up to the challenge.
Over a 12-week period filled with many all-night development sessions and early morning meetings, NMPED, CB Technologies, and LearningMate worked hand-in-hand to develop NMEPIC. Hosted on AWS, the enterprise-assessment platform was architected and designed to streamline rostering, item development, testing, scoring, and reporting.
Additionally, NMPED-owned assessment items needed to be loaded into the NMEPIC platform. With time constraints increasing and resource availability decreasing, NMPED enlisted LearningMate’s team of content specialists to manually enter 3,500 assessment items into the platform and perform quality assurance checks.
Rostering files were exported from STARS and input into NMEPIC using IMS One Roster Lite. User interfaces were developed or customized to help teachers and faculty easily access classes, administer EOC exams, and monitor student results in real-time.
NMEPIC supported browser-based, accessibility-compliant assessment delivery via PCs, laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets using Safe Exam Browser, Chrome, Safari or Firefox. Machine-graded questions added speed to the scoring process, notifying students immediately of passing or failure while essay-questions were supported through anonymous, human grading.
Student results and raw assessment data were provided to NMPED through near real-time MS-SQL data feeds.
Towards the end of October, once the NMEPIC platform was integrated and in final beta, extensive live training sessions were delivered across the state of New Mexico. The onsite and web-delivered training for teachers, administrators, and district leaders was provided by, CB Technologies, LearningMate, and NMPED.
NMEPIC’s first live EOC tests were administered in November 2016. During the testing window, CB Technologies and LearningMate provided Tier 1 support for all New Mexico districts. LearningMate also provided Tier 2 and Tier 3 support.
During the 2016-2017 school year, 62 EOC assessments were delivered and over 269,000 exams were completed by more than 113,000 students across 60 school districts. Initial feedback from New Mexico districts was very encouraging.
“The NMEPIC platform is very user-friendly and has greatly reduced the district’s costs and time by moving to an almost paperless system.” says Rene Cantu, Hobbs Municipal Schools. “The use of NMEPIC allows teachers to inform instruction, which in turn allows for the improvement of student performance to better meet the needs of students. The technical support team for NMEPIC is very professional and prompt when responding to district EOC questions and concerns.”
Christopher N. Ruszkowski was appointed New Mexico’s Education Secretary by Governor Susana Martinez in Summer 2017 and he has established priorities for the program. Under his leadership, in the 2017-18 school year, NMPED successfully delivered more than 500,000 EOC assessments via NMEPIC Platform reporting no system downtime and zero test or result anomalies. The NMEPIC platform will continue to support New Mexico administrators, educators, and students for the 2018-2019 school year.
About CB Technologies, Inc.
Founded in 2001, CB Technologies is a premier, woman-owned technology solutions provider with extensive experience designing and deploying enterprise-class solutions for clients across the globe. We consistently deliver excellence thanks to our first-class engineers and strategic partnerships with the world’s finest providers of hardware and software solutions. By combining best-of-breed technologies, CBT provides a balance of services and solutions in the areas of Hybrid IT, Asset Intelligence, HPC & Analytics, and IT Supply Chain Optimization to augment your enterprise with the necessary tools to excel in the global marketplace. Learn more at www.cbtechinc.com.
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About LearningMate Solutions, Inc.
LearningMate partners with PreK-12, Higher Education, Professionals and corporate Learning customers to deliver innovative, efficient and customized solutions around curriculum and media development, assessments, engineering and big data. With 6 locations across 4 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and India, LearningMate serves a global clientele of education publishers, traditional and nontraditional EdTech companies, PreK-20 schools, universities and career colleges, government agencies, nonprofits, corporate learning departments and education consortia. The company builds on a strong foundation of learning design with progressive technology and engineering solutions to connect today’s learners, educators, administrators, policymakers and content creators with the information, tools and solutions they need to be successful.
Copyright ©2018. LearningMate Solutions Inc. All rights reserved.