Computers and connectivity
Two computers with audio and video capability and stable internet connectivity—one for the examiner and one for the student—are required. A web camera, microphone, and speakers or headphones are required for both the examiner and the student. A second computer screen or split-screen format on a large computer monitor for the examiner is helpful to allow a view of the digital administration when screensharing and also view the student.
When DRA materials are presented, the digital image of the assessment materials (i.e. benchmark book, progress monitoring passage, etc.) on the student’s screen should be at least 10” diagonally, similar to an iPad or iPad Air. Some teleconferencing platforms shrink the size of images, so the facilitator should verify the image size in the initial virtual meeting. It is recommended that computer screens used for remote assessment be at least 15” measured diagonally. Smaller screens, such as those of iPad minis, small tablet PCs, and smartphones, are not allowed for student-facing content, as these may affect the student’s ability to view the assessment materials, student response, and validity of the test results. Similarly, presenting assessment materials on extremely large screens has not been examined, so the same precaution applies. At the beginning of the testing session, the examiner may ask the facilitator to aim a peripheral camera or device (as described in the next paragraph) at the student’s screen to ensure that the student’s screen is displaying images in the correct aspect ratio and not stretching or obscuring the image.
A teleconference platform is required. Screensharing capability is required.
High-quality video (HD preferred) is required during the administration. Make sure the full faces of the examiner and the student are seen using each respective web camera. The teleconference platform should allow all relevant visual assessment materials to be fully visible to the student; the view of the examiner should not impede the student’s view of DRA assessment materials.
Screensharing digital components
When screensharing digital resources that a student will read, ensure that the page is viewed in Full Screen and that the font size is appropriate for the age level. The DRA2, DRA3, and EDL2 digital benchmark books are available online. It is not permitted to copy paper benchmark books or present them to the student via web cam or document camera.
Test item security in the audiovisual environment
The examiner is responsible for ensuring test item security is maintained, as outlined in the Terms and Conditions for test use. The examiner should address test security requirements with the student (and facilitator, if applicable) during the informed consent process. The examiner should make it clear that the video should not be captured, photos should not be taken, and assessment materials should not be copied or recorded, as this is a copyright violation. The student and facilitator must agree that they will not record (audio or visual) or take photos or screenshots of any portion of the test materials or testing session, and not permit anyone to observe the testing session or be in the testing room (except for a facilitator, when necessary). Digital benchmark book access keys are not to be shared among teachers/staff.
Peripheral camera or device
A stand-alone peripheral camera that can be positioned to provide a view of the session from another angle or a live view of the student’s progress is helpful. Alternately, a separate device (e.g., a smartphone with a camera or another peripheral device) can be connected to the teleconference and set in a stable position to show the student’s pointing or written responses. The device’s audio should be silenced and microphone should be muted to prevent feedback. If possible, the examiner should guide positioning of the peripheral camera/device before administering the Student Response booklets (beginning in level 28) and subtests that elicit pointing or gestured responses (i.e., Levels A-3) so that the examiner can see the student’s real-time responses are captured.
In a typical remote assessment session, it is more feasible to make a document or moveable camera available in the student’s location. However, while social distancing is necessary, the only camera available may be a stationary camera integrated into the student’s laptop or computer screen. It is unrealistic to expect students to have document cameras within their homes. It may be necessary for examiners to think creatively about how to use a smartphone in the student’s location to gain a view of the student’s progress in a response booklet or when pointing at a screen. Prior to attempting this with a student, the examiner should work to become fluid and competent at directing students in these methods, which can require extensive practice with varied individuals and types of smartphones. In addition, this requires planning and practice in the initial virtual meeting to prevent technical difficulties, and so the student feels confident doing this when it is time.
Online instructional videos (e.g., here) demonstrate how a smartphone may be used with common household objects (e.g., a tower or stack of books, paper weight, ruler, and rubber band or tape) to create an improvised document camera for use during tasks involving the Student Response booklets. Typically, devices provide the best view of the student’s screen and pointing responses when positioned in landscape format. While using a smartphone as the peripheral camera is not optimal or an optimal solution for remote assessment, it can be functional if executed well.
When gesturing to the digital Benchmark books, the examiner should display them as digital assets onscreen and point using the mouse cursor. It may on occasion be necessary for the examiner to gesture to areas of a paper copy of a response booklet or to show how to respond to demonstration items on the examiner’s camera. In this case, screen share a PDF of the Student Response booklets and use the cursor to direct the student to areas on their response booklet. Capturing response booklet performance (if used): The examiner may ask for the completed response booklet to be shown on camera immediately at the conclusion of a task, so that the examiner can score it immediately and so responses are not lost or modified. One successful approach to protecting test security uses sealed envelopes (i.e., the sealed envelope method) and is described as follows. The examiner gathers response booklets and a self-addressed stamped envelope. The examiner places these materials in an envelope and signs it on the seal, then mails or delivers it to the testing location. The examiner emphasizes that the sealed envelope containing the response booklets must not be opened until the examiner asks. The response booklets are then placed in the provided self-addressed stamped envelope after completion of each subtest, sealed at the conclusion and signed on the seal on camera, and then mailed or delivered to the examiner immediately following the testing session.
High-quality audio capabilities are required during the administration. An over the head, two-ear, stereo headset with attached boom microphone is recommended for both the examiner and student. Headphones with a microphone may be used if a headset is not available.
The examiner should test the audio for both the examiner and student in the initial virtual meeting and at the beginning of the testing session to ensure a high-quality audio environment is present. Testing the audio should include an informal conversation prior to the administration where the examiner is listening for any clicks, pops, or breaks in the audio signal that distorts or interrupts the voice of the student. The examiner should also ask if there are any interruptions or distortions in the audio signal on the student’s end. Any connectivity lapses, distractions, or intrusions that occurred during testing should be reported.
Manage audiovisual distractions
As with any testing session, the examiner should do everything possible to make sure the student’s environment is free from audio and visual distractions. For example, remove distracting items, silence all electronics, and close doors. If possible, the student should be positioned facing away from the door to verify through the student’s camera that the door remains shut and can monitor any interruptions. The examiner should confirm that all other applications on the computer, laptop, or peripheral device are closed and alerts/notifications are silenced. Radios, televisions, other cellular phones, fax machines, smart speakers, printers, and equipment that emit noise should be silenced and/or removed from the room.
Good overhead and facial lighting should be established for the examiner and student. Blinds or shades should be closed to reduce sun glare on faces and the computer screens.
The examiner should record any and all atypical events that occur during the testing session. This may include delayed audio or video, disruptions to connectivity, the student being distracted by external stimuli, and any other anomalies. These can be noted on the record form or in the online platform notes and should be considered during interpretation.