Starting this month, some Baltimore County teachers will give tests via handheld devices instead of the usual pencil and paper in a pilot program aiming to make their jobs easier and better engage students, reports the Baltimore Sun. "We believe that this has the potential to benefit teachers and students greatly," said Mandi Dietrich, director of special projects, who is overseeing the pilot. The units "can expedite testing, which of course leaves more time for other instructional activities. … They’re also instructional tools." With the iRespond devices, which resemble a TV remote control with a small digital screen, teachers can immediately access test results, eliminating the trip to a scanner to score the county assessments used to prepare students for state tests, Dietrich said. But they can be used for instructor-created tests as well, or for questions woven into regular classroom lessons. Eleven schools are to give the handheld devices a test run this year, with plans to use them for benchmarks and short-cycle assessments starting this month. "We were looking for what’s the next step to help the teacher," said Steve Holmes, president of EduTrax, which provides testing and data services to the school system. "This is really going to streamline the testing process."

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