Eastern Idaho Technical College

“I’ve expressed my opinion that it has been a worthwhile project and I believe it can be a positive change for any program in the state.” 

Keeping Up With Technology

As technology continues to grow and expand, basic computer skills are no longer considered a “nice to have” skill. They are mandatory for most tasks associated with education and various jobs.

Due to recent trends and shifts in the education assessment market, Melody Clegg, the ABE Division Manager at Eastern Idaho Technical College, began seeking out a new basic skills assessment to implement in their adult ed program. A computerized version was at the top of her list of requirements.

EITC is the only purely professional technical college in the state of Idaho. They offer courses in business, office and technology, health professions, and trades and industry. They also have general education and adult basic education programs. They strive to provide their students with the most current and up-to-date technical skills to stay competitive in the workplace.

“We wanted to transition students to a computer-based test because many high stakes tests like the GED are becoming computerized,” says Melody. “We thought it would be a good preparation for the students.”  

This is one of the features that led Melody to choose the Wonderlic General Assessment of Instructional Needs (GAIN)®.  However, given the rural area in which the school is located and lack of computer knowledge their students possess, many instructors, including Melody, were concerned that the students would struggle with the basic functions required to complete the assessment online.

They were shocked by the results.

“We’ve been using GAIN exclusively since June 2011 and have had close to 900 students complete the pre-and post tests per year. Out of all of those students, we have had only two students struggle with it being a computerized test. We have some students that are very low literacy and we were amazed that even for that level of students they had no problem using the computer,” says Melody.

Not only have they experienced almost no issues with students taking the online version of the assessment, the feedback from the EITC students on the test overall has been very positive. They appreciate the shorter amount of time it takes to complete the assessment and felt better about their performance.

“We had students say they felt that the test was easier than assessments they had taken with us before,” states Melody, “But their scores didn’t reflect it. We believe dealing with a computerized version, and the simplicity of the navigation, made it feel easier than going back and forth between a paper test and the bubble sheet.”

The teachers are also pleased with the quality of the reports GAIN provides them with.

“Even with our previous tests, teachers have always gotten a copy of each student’s test scores so they were aware of the areas the students weren’t scoring to completion on,” explains Melody, “However, the GAIN results are much more specific. They are able to focus on the specific, individual student markers and really identify where they’re struggling.”

With more targeted instruction by teachers due to the GAIN reports, a higher percentage of students demonstrated level gains and completed their GED goals in 2012 than in the previous two years.

Melody was so pleased with the results and improvements she’s experienced since implementing GAIN, that she recommended the test for all of the state’s adult ed programs.

“Other regions have watched our experience this last year,” says Melody. “I’ve expressed my opinion that it has been a worthwhile project and I believe it can be a positive change for any program in the state.”