Sioux Falls School District Releases Results of Pilot Program Using TestTalker

Sioux Falls, S.D., School District released the first year results of its pilot program, which is designed to improve test scores. The pilot program is evaluating how to help under-performing students to improve test scores in the standardized Dakota STEP (State Test of Educational Progress).  The Sioux Falls School District found that students using the Learning Systems Group's TestTalker achieved a higher percentage of growth as compared to the overall school district's results.

"All school districts are under the gun to meet new federal standards for academic performance," remarked Terri Noldner, Sioux Falls School District's assistive technology coordinator.  "In Sioux Falls, we are constantly looking for innovative approaches to help struggling students be successful under these tougher requirements.  When we were introduced to TestTalker, we quickly saw the technology as a targeted approach to improve standardized test scores.  TestTalker offered us an affordable and easy-to-learn option for our teachers and students."

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota School District is made up of 30 buildings that house its elementary, middle school, and high school students.  During the 2005 Dakota STEP tests, approximately 50 percent of the school buildings had students using the TestTalker software.  The pilot program helps the school district measure progress for its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative.

"We will be measuring growth across our student population based upon the Dakota STEP scaled scores," said Sharon Schueler, coordinator of assessment and evaluation for the Sioux Falls School District.  "This pilot program using TestTalker has given our district a significant benchmark for tracking the effectiveness of new technologies used by non-proficient students. The positive results have fueled the momentum for broader deployment of TestTalker into all aspects of the curriculum."

Special education teachers and administrators in the Sioux Falls School District make certain that the students select the assistive tools they need.  "Once students become familiar with TestTalker," added Noldner, "they request it for standardized tests as well as their regular class work.  TestTalker enables our students to proceed at their own pace and remain in the classroom during testing exercises, instead of moving to a separate testing location"

TestTalker is a software solution that creates a computer version of a test or a worksheet that is identical to the paper rendition.  The information seen on the screen is converted into the spoken word. 

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