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New York State Schools Utilize Revolutionary On-Site Electronic Scoring System

Breakthrough Educational Assessment Scoring Environment (EASE System™) from Optimum Solutions Corporation promises to transform the way both large and small school districts use state-of-the-art technology to capture and score tests.

Introduction of the EASE System™ puts the capabilities of state-of-the-art technology directly in the hands of the teachers who score the tests.

EASE System was used in May and June by the Yonkers School District, Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, and the New York City Charter Schools.

LYNBROOK, NEW YORK, September 27, 2010 — Several New York State school districts made history in May and June with the deployment of the world’s first on-site electronic scoring system as part of their Grades 3-8 standardized test programs. The revolutionary Educational Assessment Scoring Environment (EASE System™) was developed by the Education Division of Optimum Solutions Corporation (www.oscworld.com), designers of the patented, state-of-the-art data capture technology being used by the United States Census Bureau for the 2010 Census, Kantar Media, Experian, Synovate, Young & Rubicam, Maritz Research, Scarborough Research, the Bank of New York, the Gallup Organization, and other leading Fortune 100 and multi-national corporations.

According to John Harrison, Executive Vice President of Optimum Solutions Corporation, the introduction of the EASE System makes highly customizable, state-of-the-art data capture and scoring technology available to all size school districts for the very first time. “EASE is totally flexible and completely customizable to meet the unique needs of each individual school district that uses it.?

“It is the first customizable electronic scoring system for on-site, regional, or remote deployment. With EASE, schools continue to use their own staff to score the tests, which are now read on computers. This change makes for a smoother, faster, and more efficient process, resulting in scoring data being sent to the state faster and more efficiently. School officials and teachers are more empowered to use test score data quickly to address individual student needs, as well as areas that need district wide attention. It’s a true ‘win-win’ for everyone.?

Throughout May and June the EASE System was utilized by the Yonkers School District, the Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, and the New York City Charter Schools for the grading of the New York State Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics and the Grade 8 Social Studies assessment tests. In doing so, these schools became the first in the state to use any form of electronic scoring system in standardized testing programs.

“These school districts are pointing the way to the future for all schools throughout the state and, indeed, the country,? Harrison asserted. “While other states have certainly implemented electronic scoring in their standardized test data collection, none have been able, until today, to offer the EASE suite of applications that provides a totally customizable scanning, closed end processing and constructed response scoring solution. EASE is the only package available from a single solutions provider that can function on-site or remotely and deliver the unique combination of user-flexibility, tools, patented software, and scoring support needed for all phases of electronic scoring. Furthermore, this package retains the use of New York teachers and trainers who have extensive experience in grading New York State tests. New York State is now in the vanguard of educational test technology.?

Amplifying this point, Joan Flig, an Educational Assessment Consultant who has been involved in New York State test scoring for years and who presently supervises the scoring site of 25,000 New York State ELA and Math constructed response test booklets for the New York City Charter Schools Collaborative noted that, “This day marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to identify and deploy the very best performing, most flexible and cost-effective electronic reporting solution that can be easily rolled out to school districts statewide in system configurations that are scaled perfectly to meet the needs of every size school district. The EASE System will enable school districts to rapidly convert their traditional manual scoring systems into a completely automated system that functions faster and better, on-site or remotely, involving fewer teachers, while reducing costs. It is precisely the solution budget strapped schools need.?

Four Key Components Make EASE Cost-Effective, Turnkey, and Productive:
Under development for the last three years, the EASE System is actually comprised of seventeen integrated components, with the four most important being a Scoring Environment that provides a powerful set of tools that makes scoring fast and easy, a Workflow Interface that provides a unique combination of tools for assessment processing that assist in managing the scoring process, patented Closed End Mark Sense Processing Software, and embedded Data Cleaning, Formatting and Reporting ‘C’ like Programming Language that allows for unprecedented customization.

The Scoring Environment features an embedded ruler and protractor tool that eliminates the need to handle devices required for scoring certain math questions. On-screen highlighting enables scorers to quickly focus in on sections of questions where student responses are expected. Image controls allow easy modification of contrast, background, image size and position settings. On-screen comments quickly direct scorers to focus on certain requirements for the displayed question. Finally, a simple to use point and click system to assign scores and advance quickly to the next student response completes the scoring task.

The Workflow Interface allows for real-time monitoring to track the rate of scoring, which allows for estimates of the time left in the scoring process. This monitoring helps ensure that state timelines for grading are met. The system also manages the routing of specific questions to specific scorers trained in those content rubrics and directs read-behinds of tests scored to specific table leaders to assure that all scorers are following the state identified rubrics and will determine if any scorer needs additional training.

The patented Mark Sense Software, documented as one of the world’s most advanced mark sense software by Advanced Document Imaging, is based on the idea of finding answers to questions rather than individual marks. The Answer Recognition Engine discriminates between erasures, cross-outs, and real marks with an accuracy rate better than 99%. The quality, reliability, and robustness of the Mark Sense software is what has made it the de facto standard for excellence in data capture technology and the one relied upon by the United States Census Bureau and leading Fortune 100 corporations.

The embedded data cleaning, formatting and reporting Programming Language allows schools to easily add instructions to the EASE System that can clean data based on user-defined rules, provide for the review of key or questionable data, format data to match additional output formats, archive images and question snippets in varied formats and naming conventions, as well as report questionable answer patterns.

Optimum Solutions Corporation even provides a management team that oversees the entire process. In addition, OSC is able to provide a team of accredited New York State teachers to complete the test scoring. The company’s system for recruiting and training scorers guarantees the highest levels of scoring reliability and validity including providing value-added analyses documenting scoring quality.

According to Harrison, OSC plans to initially concentrate the introduction of the EASE System in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. A nationwide expansion of the marketing program will begin in 2012.

Founded in 1990, and headquartered in Lynbrook, New York, Optimum Solutions Corporation (www.oscworld.com) introduced and marketed the world’s first patented automated scanning and data capture system called FAQSS (Fast and Accurate Questionnaire Scanning System). FAQSS captures and interprets data automatically from all forms, even damaged or torn surveys. It is capable of distinguishing cross-outs, erasures and stray marks from “real marks.” Embedded OCR/ICR technology can read most handwritten numbers and alphanumeric fields automatically. FAQSS’ patented “Mark Sense” technology offers better than 99% accuracy in the capture of data from any form, even tightly spaced, poorly marked and heavily abused documents. Widely regarded as the fastest most accurate full-featured automated data capture system, FAQSS (Fast Accurate Questionnaire Scanning System) has evolved into the next generation, FACTS (Fast Accurate Capture Technology Solutions), reflecting the many enhancements developed during its 20-year history. Optimum Solutions Corporation clients include the United States Census Bureau for the 2010 Census as well as by Kantar Media, Experian, Synovate, Young & Rubicam, Maritz Research, Scarborough Research, the Gallup Organization, and other leading Fortune 100 and multi-national corporations.

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