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Michigan takes big step forward in online testing of students

During the pilot, it didn’t take long for students to come across a key advantage of the online test.

Students ditched their No. 2 pencils in favor of a mouse and a keyboard to take Michigan’s state social studies exam—and in the process became part of a crucial project that will give state officials a glimpse into the future of online testing.

The pilot social studies exam—given to about 35,000 students in nearly 100 school districts statewide this fall—marked the first time any portion of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) exam has been given online.

It also marks a dramatic shift occurring in education: The traditional paper-and-pencil, fill-in-the-blank exams could become as much of a relic as learning cursive and using blackboards. But the shift toward online testing comes with significant challenges, as some schools struggle to implement the proper technology necessary to test all students online.

Still, judging from the reaction of students, it’s a process that will be worth the investment, as many students appreciated the key advantages of taking a computer-based test.

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