Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group Presents
TestTalker Leads High School Graduate to Success!
Technology and Bryan Dooley’s
“Yes, I can!” attitude have proven to be a winning combination.
This remarkable young man has cerebral palsy and disarthria, but that does not stop Bryan. “Although these challenges are sometimes difficult, I’ve developed a strong determination to persevere over these challenges. I don’t let them hold me down.”
Bryan is graduating from Ronald Wilson Reagan High School in Pfafftown, North Carolina this June with quite a list of accomplishments. He is member of the National Honor Society, a Crosby scholar, recipient of the Teacher’s Choice Award, invitee to the Straight ”A” Banquet since its inception, and writer of the column, “Observations from Below”, for school newspaper, The Rooster. He is a member of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Leadership Network, the North Carolina Leadership Network, and Kids As Self Advocates (KASA). Perhaps his greatest award thus far has been the 2005 Yes, I Can Award for Assistive Technology from the Council for Exceptional Children. Each year, the CEC honors 27 students who have excelled despite their disability. To date, Bryan is the only award recipient from North Carolina.
Awards and associations are not Bryan’s only involvements. He has attended the North Carolina Leadership Forums where he worked on a bill for Congress and on a project to teach disability awareness to school-aged children. He has held a question-and-answer session with classes at Jefferson Middle School about disability awareness. He has even taught computer classes to senior citizens at the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center in Salisbury, North Carolina. Bryan’s proactive attitude has helped him to lay a good foundation for meeting his career goal of becoming a journalist or a lobbyist to raise disability awareness. He will attend either Wake Forest University or Guilford College next fall.
Technology Eases Learning
Bryan attributes his successes partially to technology. Computers have been a part of his daily life since age two when he started going to the Children’s Center for the Physically Handicapped. Once in high school, the Occupational Therapy Department offered him the opportunity to test new technologies. These trials helped the department determine which type of student might benefit from a particular piece of software or equipment. The Exceptional Children’s (EC) coordinator, Koy Kincaid, had ordered all the state of the art assistive technology for his high school. One of the software programs available to students and teachers was TestTalker.
Roy Chandler, an EC assistant, felt TestTalker would give Bryan the independence he desired during testing situations. Bryan became quite efficient using TestTalker. Even to the point where he helps Mr. Chandler prepare the tests for TestTalker. He likes being able to take tests independently without someone looking over his shoulder. “I find taking tests to be faster than when I have a scribe to document my answers. I can concentrate only on taking the test rather than whether or not the scribe understands my answers. My teachers and I know this is my own work with no accidental input from the scribe.”
Bryan’s mom, Kathy, also loves the fact that Bryan is independent in taking tests. “There was always a question in some people’s minds if the work was ‘all’ Bryan’s. With TestTalker, there is no question.” She continued, “It takes longer to try to verbally tell someone the answer and have them understand it than it does to do it yourself. Bryan is now able to set his own pace to complete his own work.”
Bryan says that he would like to encourage anyone who struggles with test-taking to consider using TestTalker. “Give it a try. It will give you independence. You can work faster and it is easier than using a scribe.”
While Bryan acknowledges the positive accomplishments technology has helped to provide him, he says that without the support of his parents and grandparents these accomplishments would not have been possible. He would also to thank Sally Bridges (EC Coordinator), Lynda Horney (Occupational Therapist), Koy Kincaid (EC case manager), Jennifer Kerr (EC resource teacher), Ray Chandler (EC assistant), David Roscana (one-on-one assistant), and all his teachers and classmates. “Everyone has been exceptional in helping me to succeed. Thank you!”
Without Bryan’s dedication to finding the tools that work for him, Cindy Hall, EC Assistive Technology Coordinator, says that she may not have realized the full potential of TestTalker. “Bryan is the rare student that has had vast experience with technology and is able to communicate with me and his teachers and therapist about what has worked and has not worked for him.” She continued, “Without his willingness to try new technology, my knowledge, as well as our school district's knowledge, of using TT with significantly physically disabled students would be extremely limited.”
Wake Forest University and Guilford College are both interested in allowing Bryan to continue to use TestTalker in testing situations. With Bryan’s positive attitude and the right tools, such as TestTalker, we know that this young man will be successful at either college. Good Luck Bryan!
Just as we were ready to post, we were notified that Bryan was chosen as the recipient of the annual Matthew C. Graziadei Achievement Award which is given each year recognizing the Outstanding High School Senior with a Disability in North Carolina. The recipient must demonstrate the characteristics that Matthew C. Graziadei exhibited every day - determination, perseverance, persistence, dedication, confidence, motivation, fortitude, accomplishment, excellence, and quality. Bryan was chosen from 104 candidates.
Congratulations to Bryan!
The WSFCS TestTalker Plan
In 2005, Winston Salem Forsythe County Schools (WSFCS) were presented with a proposal from Ken Whitley at Key Technologies, Morganton, North Carolina to pilot the use of TestTalker in one elementary, middle, and high school. Following the successful conclusion of the pilot, the Exceptional Children's division made an investment in TestTalker for each of their 18 middle and 16 high schools. Mr. Whitley provided complimentary training at three locations. Cindy Hall provided the remainder of the training and continues to provide ongoing training. Soon some of the district’s principals saw the benefits of TestTalker not only for their special education students, but also for the “at risk” students in the general population. WSFCS received approval from the State Department of Public Instruction for their plan for the district-wide use of TestTalker for U.S. History, Civics and Economics, Biology, and Physical Science end-of-course tests and the Grade 5 and Grade 8 science end-of-grade tests.
The district recently completed a TestTalker research project that required participation from all levels of school management and the disabled students in classes for Civics, Economics, Biology, Science, and U.S. History at the high school and 8th grade levels. The district was pleased with the 2008 test results:
High School 1st Quarter Testing Civics, Biology, US History 2008
100 test administrations:
- Failed 1st Quarter Test/TestTalker: 15 percent of the tests administered
- Minimal Passing Score/TestTalker: 30 percent of the tests administered
- Average or Better Passing Score/TestTalker: 55 percent of the tests administered
High School End of Grade Civics and Economics 2008
20 test administrations:
- Failed to meet exit requirements EOG/TestTalker: 15 percent
- Met exit requirements EOG/TestTalker: 85 percent
8th Grade North Carolina End of Grade Science Test 2008
|7th grade with test read aloud:
||8th grade using TestTalker:
|10 out of 10 students failed
||2 out of 10 students failed
7 out of 10 students had minimal passing score
1 out of 10 had an average or better passing score
|17 students had a minimal passing score
||1 out of 17 failed
10 out of 17 had a minimal passing score
6 out of 17 had an average or better passing score
|3 out of 3 students had an average or better score
||3 out of 3 had an average or better passing score
Note: This year’s End of Grade Tests results will be ready in the next couple of weeks.
Students who participated in the project are enthusiastic about the use of TestTalker. Roger says, “TestTalker is great! It helps me focus on the stuff I've learned and not just trying to read the words. It helps me get what the teacher wanted me to learn and takes less time than if I have to struggle with the reading and being so slow. You can set the pace and highlight words. You have headphones on, which helps keep out distracting noise and you can use your own earbuds if you want.”
Roger’s parents agree, “My husband and I would recommend TestTalker to any student struggling with reading. Roger is more successful due to TestTalker as an accommodation per his IEP. Being able to focus on the curriculum material that was learned versus trying to decode every third or fourth word is very helpful to him. He also feels more comfortable typing, and when it is time for short answers or paragraphs, he can type those in. He feels more successful overall. One or two words in a question can make a difference between comprehending the question and not. The ability to slow down or speed up the reading is great as is the ability to adjust the font. We believe that he passes more tests than he normally would by being able to use TestTalker.”
Cindy is very excited about the continued use of TestTalker throughout the district. “The biggest development is that in August I will be working with the Testing Accountability Office to put our district level tests on CD formatted for TestTalker!”
We look forward to hearing more about how the WSFCS plan and TestTalker impact upon the success of students who struggle with test-taking.
- TestTalker is an Accommodation not Modification
- Provides an exact replica of a test or worksheet that talks
- Bimodal presentation of tests
- Supports students’ learning styles
- Provides visual cues
- Tests knowledge, not reading ability
TestTalker is valuable in helping students become better prepared for test-taking. TestTalker enables students to become familiar with specific testing formats. It provides a bimodal approach, which enhances learning for many students and helps empower students to feel successful. TestTalker also better prepares students for taking tests on the computer. Considering the increasing popularity of this method of test delivery, it serves as a tool for individuals to practice completing tests by computer.
“TestTalker will change the way you assess students with special needs. Students will now have the capability of working independently on a test just like the other students in the classroom. TestTalker will level the playing field for students with disabilities and will allow teachers to more accurately assess their knowledge and skills,” states Brian Friedlander, Ph.D.of AssistiveTek, L.L.C.
For more information about TestTalker, please read our TestTalker Data Sheet or peruse our Question & Answer page.
To download a demo of TestTalker, please visit Try TestTalker! Free Demo
Keep an Eye on the News
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Read how ESL students are learning English through songs, audio books, and more. (See eSchoolNews.com for more information.)
Obama Proposes $1.3B Increase in Ed Funding
President’s 2010 budget plan would reduce ed-tech funding by 63 percent--after $650 million in ed-tech stimulus funds. (See eSchoolNews.com for more information.)
Get an “A” on Your Report Card – Maximize your Tech Investment
Did you know that in 2012 student proficiency in the application of technology will be measured for the first time? To help you prepare, eSchool News has compiled an extensive resource library that addresses all these issues and provides first-hand experience from educators who have successfully met the challenges.
Tip of the Month
TestTalker Tip: Creating a Word Bank on a TestTalker Worksheet or Test
There may be times when you wish to provide your students with a word bank, or list of responses from which to choose, in order to complete an answer field on a test or a worksheet. To create this option, you must be in TestTalker Teacher Edition. Using TestTalker Student Edition, the student can then copy words from the list to paste into an answer field or type the word into the answer field.
Creating the Word Bank (in Teacher Edition)
- Click the Fill-in + button and select Fill-in, 3-Line Extended, or 8-Line Extended depending on the amount of text you wish to make available, and the layout of the worksheet or test.
- Situate the answer box or boxes in a logical location. For example, for a list of vocabulary words, you may want to place a single box at the top of the page. For options related to a particular question, you may choose to place the options directly next to the questions.
- Click the Student button to insert the word choices in the answer fields you have created.
- Click the Teacher button, and then save the worksheet or test in the directory from which your student will open it in TestTalker Student Edition.
Completing the answer fields (in Student Edition)
- Open the file.
- Double-click the word you want to select from the word bank.
- Click the Copy button.
- Place your mouse pointer where you want to insert the answer.
- Click the Paste button.
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About Freedom Scientific LSG
Freedom Scientific, Learning Systems Group provides products that are acclaimed for their easy-to-use interface, innovative technology, and flexible but powerful features. Designed by educational experts to enhance the learning process for struggling students, WYNN provides reading and writing solutions. Freedom Scientific LSG also created TestTalker, which provides test-taking preparations and worksheet completion. To find out more about our products, please visit us at www.freedomscientific.com/lsg.