Liberal High School sophomore Cesar Saquil demonstrates how to use a CPS remote device. L&T photo/Ananda Coleman
By ANANDA COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
The days of teachers grading tests by hand are over, at least for some subjects.
At Liberal High School, teachers can put down the red pen and glance at a computer screen to see test results.
And students can learn their grades on a test only minutes after taking it.
All this is possible through a set of hand devices, much like remote controls — known as Classroom Performance Systems (CPS) — that students use to enter their answers to multiple choice tests directly into a teacher’s computer. A whole class of students can enter answers simultaneously and the answers are sent instantly to the teacher’s computer, where students’ scores are automatically tallied.
The system does away with stacks of papers waiting to be graded and saves teachers time and energy spent grading individual tests and quizzes. The automated approach is more than a high-tech gadget. In everyday life, it gives teachers more time to prepare lesson plans, tutor students, answer questions — and teach.
LHS science teacher Lindsay Diepenbrock appreciates CPS, and routinely uses the computerized system for tests and quizzes.
“CPS is definitely less work,” she said. “For me, it’s an easy way to check on your students’ progress. I’ve also used it for case studies. I want to eventually use CPS every day.”
But while Class Performance System has the potential to be a huge asset to any classroom, that doesn’t mean it always works smoothly. There are two main reasons CPS can be frustrating instead of helpful: lack of training and worn-out devices.
“Sometimes it can be somewhat of a hassle, because they don’t always work,” Diepenbrock said. “But if you know how and have the proper training, it saves a whole lot of time.”
Like computers, cars and cell phones, CPS devices get old and wear out, as Director of Data and Testing Jill Stout explained at the USD 480 School Board meeting April 5.
“We have several sets that are outdated, they’re not efficient,” she said. “[Students] get ready to take their tests and the [CPS] aren’t working; they’re not connecting.”
In response, USD 480 board members voted to spend $31,600 on 20 new sets of CPS equipment. The money was set aside last year for the purchase of replacement CPS equipment.
“This will replace some of those that are just worn out,” Stout said. “It’s a good thing – we’ve been using them.”
Even when CPS arrive at the high school in pristine condition, they’re no use in the classroom if teachers do not know how to use them. At present, some LHS instructors know how to operate CPS, and others don’t.
Although USD 480’s decision to hire new technology coaches for the district sparked controversy, Diepenbrock said CPS is an example of the district’s need for them.
“This would be the kind of thing we need technology coaches for,” Diepenbrock said. “Teachers need to know how to use these things. It’s so much easier if you have someone who already knows what to do, instead of having to figure it all out by yourself. I think it is a great technology that every classroom should have.”