About ACA Test PrepWe're different... for good reasons!
We don’t track
It doesn’t work, and we’re keeping prices low for schools.
Our system is designed by teachers, for teachers. We don’t include individual student logins or “student tracking” for a few reasons:
- It doesn’t work. Student progress can’t be tracked by a website- only site activity can. Students learn in the first week of any “online tracking system” that as long as they click a link and let a movie play, they get credit. They can be talking to the student in the next seat, playing a videogame, watching YouTube, or anything else! If the page is open and the movie is playing, they get credit. This gives false information to the teacher about the student’s progress. It doesn’t matter if they logged in, it only matters if they learned.
- It’s labor-intensive. We created ACATestPrep because as classroom teachers, we just wanted tutorials that kids liked and were effective- but didn’t take over our jobs or give us another system to manage (one gradebook is enough!). For students to have their own logins, they need to sign up for an account. Aside from the legal concerns involved with tracking students (COPA, CIPA, Etc.)- students with lost passwords and email access problems are a nightmare for teachers to manage.
- It would increase prices. We are classroom teachers here at ACATestPrep also. Our budgets are tight just like yours. We are, and have always been, the most cost-effective solution for certification materials because we wanted to make something that every classroom could afford. Features MUST be worth the increased cost it would incur to ACATP users- and for the reasons listed above, we don’t think it’s worth an extra $800-$1000 a year for teachers.
Our style in unapologetically fun and casual. Mostly that’s because we’re fun people who like to enjoy our day in the classroom, but there’s another reason as well…
- You retain more when enjoying the learning. This is pretty obvious with the recent surge in studies about brain science and human motivation. Dan Pink, Jane McGonigal, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Ken Robinson are some great authors to check out (click their names for TED Talks). If kids aren’t having fun in a class, they’re learning less than if they were.
- Efficiency is ineffective. Brain science research indicates that the “efficiency” model used in the past is ineffective. Giving the kids short, direct answers in an attempt to condense the knowledge to make it more accessible, actually has the opposite effect. The jokes, sidebars, or tangents (many just fun stories) could easily be edited out, but the research shows that it results in much more engaged learners. The human brain is like a muscle. It doesn’t get stronger by lifting light loads− it needs a little challenge to trigger the “sticky” part of the brain. Great research in the books Make It Stick and Made To Stick.
- The real world is real. Nobody in the workplace talks like a polished presenter- especially creatives! Design is a creative, expressive industry. The people in it are creative, expressive people. Getting talked “at” in a stuffy, impersonal way forces the hearer to drift off. Keeping it light and fun makes it more engaging. Need proof? Look around at your next PD workshop with a “professional” and stiff delivery. But when the crowd is laughing, EVERYONE is paying attention!
We intentionally have a casual delivery style.
What some call “professional,” most call “boring.”
Boring doesn’t work.
We promote strategies we use ourselves.
We have ways to make teacher’s jobs more fun, engaged, and rewarding.
We use ACATestPrep in our classrooms to help students learn- and we’ve got some tips that teachers might like to use:
- MBWA- Management By Walking Around. Walking around the classroom is the best way to track student progress, see who’s on task or distracted, and to get to know the kids. We recommend getting to know them, show some interest in their interestes, and mentor them. Directly monitoring a student working is the only sure-fire way to guage their participation- every other system can be fooled! Get to know them and find out about thier interests. We’re taking care of the actual lessons and delivery- but YOU need to guide the kids! Tap into their interests and help that student find their strengths to become successful. That’s why you became a teacher, right?!?! (Besides, they’ll be managing your retirement and Social Security- you want them to be well equipped!)
- ScreenShots. We recommend having the students take a screenshot of their quizzes as well as project progress at least once a day, and at important points in their work. This allows you to create a really cool powerpoint that shows the project evolving – a great item to send home! Nothing at all can tell if a student learned the concepts except to demonstrate mastery in the software. The ACA is a real-world, hands-on test that is not just rote memorization. They’ll need to perform the tasks they learn on the exam. Anything short of knowing how to do the task in the software results in low test scores.
- Portfolios. A great way for the students to “turn in” work is with portfolios. This also creates a great deliverable from your classroom to show parents and administration. Screenshots, along with documentation of what the student learned will help focus student’s learning. This can be done in any method you prefer. I’m a huge fan of student portfolios on a public blog- this lets parents see student work as soon as it’s turned in- and lets them compare their child’s work to other student’s work. Think of how many parent teacher conferences will be avoided when parents see exactly what their child did in comparison to the rest of the class!