Florence County school districts face challenges with online testing

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WBTW) -Third through eighth-grade students are now required to take the SC Ready and SC Pass state tests online but leaders throughout the Florence school districts say the testing presents unique challenges.

Florence School District Five is in its second year of online testing.

“Last year a lot of the things that we ran into were that our children were not prepared to do online testing,” said Vickie Squires the Johnsonville Elementary School Literacy Coach in Florence Five.

District leaders say third and fourth-grade students struggled to make their way through the online test because students have to flip back and forth reading passages then type a response.

“That was a lot of confusion on their part,” said Squires.

Florence Five Superintendent Dr. Randy Smiley says the English and Language Arts (ELA) scores were lower because students struggled to type in the writing section.

“It’s going to require practice, practice, practice to understand how to use the online tools that are required to be successful on the test,” said Dr. Smiley.

Third and fourth grade Florence School District Two students test scores improved with the introduction on online test scores.

“We’re hoping by year three working closely with the state department of education that we can be assured that online testing is equivalent to paper and pencil tests,” said Neal Vincent, Florence School District Two Superintendent.

Florence School District Four students took the tests online last school year, but since students did not practice on computers before the test, officials say scores decreased. This year, each student has a computer.

“One of the things that we changed this year was making certain that we have used the computers to allow our students to take their assessments,” Dr. Rechel M. Anderson the Florence School District Four Superintendent Elect.

Florence School District One Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Randy Koon says the district is undecided on whether to test online. The district wants to review the Read to Succeed requirement, which states each third grader must score a met 1 on SC Ready or they will have to retake the grade.

Florence Three leaders plan to apply for a waiver because there are not enough computers available to test within the 20 day period.

Each district is preparing students for practice tests throughout the school year. The tests begin the last 20 days of the year.