COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct our daily lives, from shopping to work to education, including state testing of 150,000 students attending Ohio’s career-technical education centers.
CETE’s long-standing work with the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Career-Technical Education (ODE-CTE), dating back to the 1980s, includes developing tests and administering them to students; first using paper assessments, and then through a sophisticated, online system. Usually, as schools complete end-of-course testing, those test scores are downloaded from WebXamTM and then provided to the local districts for reporting back to the state Education Management Information System (EMIS) system. This process was interrupted by the pandemic and the subsequent stay-in-place order.
Social distancing prevented students from attending classes in-person and completing end-of-course testing. Career-technical education (CTE) courses require hands-on experiences, such as automotive repair or construction trades. With the dangers of the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, the schools moved to online instruction and closed their facilities, which required innovation for reporting testing and grades.
Leah Amstutz heads ODE-CTE as the State Director. After deliberations with CETE staff and with their partners at the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), the office announced the following updates for 2020. Course grades from local districts would be reported to WebXam™ and used instead of test scores for college credit where available and graduation in the coming years. For each course completed, students will have a letter grade or pass/fail indication. Student grades will be converted to percentages, using historical data maintained by CETE and EMIS. This process will allow for reporting at state and federal levels to operate similarly to how it has in years past. In collaboration with ODE/ODHE and EMIS, the IT group of the CETE assessment program worked quickly to set up this reporting feature through WebXamTM, allowing teachers and districts to upload student grading data. Also, CETE participated in ODE-hosted webinars to facilitate training for those responsible for inputting this data, ensuring that this change occurs smoothly.
Matt Winkle, Associate Director of ODE-CTE, noted that Richard Huggins, Senior Systems Manager at CETE, was a key member of this strategy. Winkle stated, “Richard has been an important part of our presentation team for the WebXamTM alternative option in response to the COVID-19 school building closure. Richard is a true asset to the educational community, as he provides outstanding customer service and technical support to the Office of CTE and our stakeholders.”
Richard Huggins succinctly describes the impact of this endeavor, “In difficult times such as these, it is important that we respond as a community to our shared challenges in the spirit of collaboration. WebXamTM is proud to support all Career-Technical students, teachers, administrators and stakeholders in the state of Ohio by leveraging the strengths of our platform to meet the challenges we are faced with today and in the future.”
When things are uncertain and ever-changing, the quick thinking and flexibility of both CETE and ODE have allowed for collaboration that benefits both students and teachers. The result is also the strengthening of the long-term cooperation between ODE and CETE.
For more information, please visit the ODE website.