[Paleopsych] CHE: Educational Testing Service Expands Efforts to Measure Computer-and-Information Literacy

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Wed Sep 28 19:32:36 UTC 2005

Educational Testing Service Expands Efforts to Measure
Computer-and-Information Literacy
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.9.20

    The Educational Testing Service is expanding its efforts to measure
    how savvy students are about technology and about the information that
    they get online.

    After unveiling an information-literacy test last year aimed at
    students entering their junior year of college, the testing service
    has designed a new version for high-school seniors, to help colleges
    decide if students can handle basic information-processing tasks
    needed for college work. The new test will be called the ICT Literacy
    Assesment-Core Level. The first three letters stand for "information
    and communication technology."

    The new test was developed based on feedback from college officials,
    said Teresa M. Egan, project manager for new-product development at
    ETS. "They were really in need of something that would measure the
    skills of students transitioning from high school to college," she

    The testing service will begin pilot studies of the new test in
    January, Ms. Egan said. For the first year or so, colleges who give
    the test will receive only aggregate scores rather than individual
    scores for each test-taker. Later, once ETS officials have developed a
    baseline, individual scores will be given.

    ETS officials say that by January, they will begin giving individual
    scores for the test the organization developed last year, which will
    now be called ICT Literacy Assesment-Advanced Level. Both tests are
    administered online, and attempt to measure both computer skills, such
    as whether students know how to send e-mail attachments, and more
    general information-processing skills, such as whether students can
    determine if an online source is reliable.

    Scores for the advanced-level test will range from 400 to 700 points,
    and score reports will also contain breakdowns on how students did in
    each of seven areas.

    ETS plans to increase the price of the test from about $25 per student
    to between $35 and $40 per student. Officials at the testing service
    have also reduced the length of the exam, from two hours to 75

    "There was a fatigue factor of students sitting for two hours," said
    Ms. Egan. And colleges will now have the option of administering the
    test in two parts, so that it can more easily be given during college
    courses, she said.

    The California State University System was among the first colleges to
    give the exam, which it used to test 3,300 students on its 23 campuses
    this year.

    Ilene F. Rockman, manager of an information-competence program for the
    Cal State office of the chancellor, said the test showed what she had
    suspected -- that many students need help when it comes to information

    "The assumptions that are sometimes made, that students are
    information- and communication-technology literate, were not always
    borne out by the results of this assessment," she said. "What I have
    said many times is that students may know how to surf the Web, they
    may know how to download music and send e-mail, but that does not mean
    they know how to analyze information."

    Neither she nor Ms. Egan would elaborate on what the aggregate scores
    revealed about students' strengths and weaknesses when it comes to IT

    Gordon W. Smith, Cal State's director of systemwide library programs,
    said he hopes that one day information literacy will be considered
    just as important as math and reading competency. He hopes that the
    tests might lead Cal State campuses and other colleges to offer
    remedial courses or tutorials to students who score poorly.

    "We certainly have some work to do in order to bring the skill levels
    of our students in information literacy up to where they ought to be,"
    he said.

    Background article from The Chronicle:
      * [71]Testing Service to Unveil an Assessment of Computer and
        Information Literacy (11/12/2004)


   71. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i12/12a03301.htm

E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced article.

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