Back to School Daze

If you’re an educator and you know the old song lyric, School Days, School Daze, dear old golden rule days, you may agree that the beginning of the school year feels like a daze. That daze may be due to the demands of the 21st century classroom.

Schools have been inundated with technology, and teachers are continually challenged with figuring out how to use that technology to enhance learning. If you teach in a district with one-to-one laptops, you’re required to create computer-friendly lessons. If you’re in a BYOD (bring your own device) district, you have to be concerned with how students are using personal devices when they are not involved in educational activities. In addition, staff development time for learning how and where to use the technology is challenging, and the resources may be limited.

Most educators are also grappling with the rollout of the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Existing curriculum must be adjusted to match the new standards, or   new curriculum must be mastered – despite limited time given to learn it.  All of these changes add to the stress of starting a new school year.

Here at STS we’re currently developing tests to match the CCSS. But we’re also continuing to use standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Coalition (STEM) standards as we look ahead to the integration of all of the standards in use today. Our goal is to insure that our products accurately reflect the curriculum needs of the 21st century classroom.

We’re also offering an array of online testing options to accommodate the greater use of technology in schools. For grades 3-8, STS offers the new online Learning Standards Assessment (LSA) in Language, Math and Science. The LSA offers quick testing and instant scoring as well as maximum flexibility. We also offer an online version of our bestselling High School Placement Test. The HSPT® E-Score takes the place of an answer sheet and allows for quick scoring and convenient make-up testing.

In the midst of your hectic school year, rest assured that our attention to your ever-changing needs will help provide you with the very best educational products for your classroom.


Online Testing and the new Common Core Standards

STS' Learning Standards Assessment (LSA)With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), there will soon be even more online testing. Two major consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, will be inaugurating their online testing during the 2013-2014 school year. These new assessments will place more emphasis on interim testing to help track students as they progress through the CCSS sequences. Yet many school personnel are concerned that while new tests may align with CCSS, their curriculum does not. Although many school districts have been working to align curricula to the CCSS, other districts are waiting for more professional development time before any alignment activities take place.

While these concerns exist, online assessments such as the STS Learning Standards Assessment (LSA) can accommodate districts in transition. The LSA is an assessment to help determine how well students are performing on a complete set of standards based on subject area, while at the same time, showing proficiencies in current curricula and standards. Available for grades 3 – 8, the LSA can be administered in the fall or spring to assist in monitoring students. The LSA is flexible, standardized, timed, and has national norms. Since it is also online, the reports for each student and class groups will be available immediately. To get more information or for a demonstration of the LSA, contact us at (800) 642-6787, or by email at

Cell Phones, Schools and Safety

Cell Phones At School

Are your younger students heading back to school with cell phones? According to the Center on Media and Child Health website, 54% of 8-12 year olds will have a cell phone within the next 3 years. The rise in cell phone usage among younger children may have a lot to do with parents feeling safer if they are able to contact their children at all times. But cell phones don’t necessarily make children safer in emergencies, and there’s a lot of concern about the possible link between cell phone use and increased cancer risk.

How do you feel about cell phones at school? For more information on this issue, click on the links below.