Illuminating the grading process

Cindy Liu, Staff Writer

Scantrons have always been a constant in the classroom for students, but that may change with a recent development at Diamond Bar High School. Along with other Walnut Valley Unified District schools, DBHS recently took a technological leap forward as it replaced its old DataDirector system with Illuminate Education.

According to its website, Illuminate offers teachers detailed feedback on test data and a new way of grading papers. It may soon replace traditional Scantrons at DBHS and allow teachers to tailor lessons according to students’ needs.

Instead of running green Scantrons through a machine, teachers can use printed pages of multiple choice questions and later scan them using a web camera or the document camera.

Some teachers have taken advantage of this feature to immediately grade and pass back exams during class.

“It can give you instant feedback on how students did on a particular area, we can change our teaching on the fly,” AP European teacher Emily Clark said. “I could take this, give a quick quiz, and check it right away. Within five minutes, I know exactly what you understood and what you don’t understand.”

Illuminate reports offer teachers insight into commonly missed questions through graphs that can be compared with compiled data. Additionally, teachers can upload, create, scan, and add to teacher or district created tests.

While DBHS teachers are only now undergoing training to use Illuminate, many teachers have already started using it.

To help the staff become more familiar with the new system, a teacher from each department attended a training session with Illuminate and later brought their knowledge to the rest of their department.

Teachers Les Schaefer, Jon Hurst, Denise Mesdjian, and Chris Holmes represented the Math, History, English and Science departments, respectively. On late start days, they meet with their departments to instruct them on the features of Illuminate. Currently, they are only introducing general system details but will gradually progress to addressing specific needs the teachers encounter.

“Scantrons are good, but it will not collect data for you. This is the same as the Scantrons, but once you’re done, it collects all the data for you. And you can save it, which is one thing that we need to start doing,” Schaefer said.

Clark looks forward to using the extensive data to analyze her students’ results and find out which topics she needs to review.

“Since I am a big fan of using technology and I’m lucky enough to have Chromebooks in my room, I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how I can integrate this and have it complement a lot of the other technologies I use,” Clark said. “This will just be another tool in the arsenal.”

DBHS also plans to implement My Portal, a website associated with Illuminate that students can use to check their results as soon as their tests are scanned.