Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season's Greetings

Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you ever wanted to talk with Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, or Marilyn Monroe?

Virsonas are “Virtual Personas,” created to Reason, Remember and React in the same way that a living, fictional or historical person would. These "Virsonas" can be also be trained and educated by you. In other words, their conversations are driven by user input and knowledge.

Virsonas don't know the answers to everything, but they are capable and willing to learn. As part of the Virsona Community, you can participate in “educating” them using the “Teach” button. So, if you chat with a Virsona and it doesn't know the answer, simply create your free account, and you can begin to “teach” it by simply inputting the correct answers! That's the beauty of a Community; participation, sharing and learning. (Have a chat with President Lincoln.)

Please remember this is a BETA Site, but there are interesting possibilities for Virsona. I can think of several classroom possibilities and also several ways of incorportaing this into your marketing plans. Let us know what you think! J.T.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Understanding the Numbers - III

I wanted to continue our discussion on statistics and interpreting test scores. Again, most of the information that you will read on this topic are from Jerome Sattler's "Measurement of Children."

If you will remember (or review previous posts found in the archives under "Statistics" heading), "derived scores vary in their usefulness." "The major types of derived scores used in norm-referenced testing are age and grade equivalent scores, ratio IQs, percentile ranks, standard scores, and stanines." We have already discussed age and grade equivalent scores and percentile ranks and I would like to begin this post by discussing ratio intelligent quotients, standard scores, stanines, and finally the relationship among derived scores.

Ratio Intelligence Quotients
"In order to interpret age-equivalent or grade-equivalent scores, we must know the student's chronological age (CA). Knowing the student's MA (Mental Age) and CA allows us to make a judgment about the child's relative performance. For example, a student with a CA of 16-0 and an MA of 18-0 has performed at an above average level, whereas a child with a CA of 16-0 and an MA of 14-0 has performed at a below average level.

When IQs were first introduced, they were defined as ratios of mental age to chronological age, multiplied by 100 to eliminate the decimal: IQ = MA/CA X 100. Substituting an MA of 12 and a CA of 10 into the formula yields a ratio IQ of l20 (IQ = 12/10 X 100 = 120). Unfortunately, because the standard deviation of the ratio IQ distribution does not remain constant with age, IQs for different ages are not comparable: The same IQ has different meanings at different ages. The use of the Deviation IQ, which is a standard score, effectively avoids this problem."

Standard Scores
"Standard scores are raw scores that have been transformed to have a given mean and standard deviation. They express how far an examinee's score lies from the mean of the distribution in terms of the standard deviation.

A z score is one type of standard score, with a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1. On many standardized tests z scores range from -3.0 to +3.0. Frequently, z scores are transformed into other standard scores in order to eliminate the + and — signs. For example, a T score is a standard score based on a distribution with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. The Deviation IQ is another standard score; it has a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 or 16, depending on the test used."

"Stanines (a contraction of standard nine) provide a single-digit scoring system with a mean of 5 and a standard deviation of 2. The scores are expressed as whole numbers from 1 to 9. When scores are converted to stanines, the shape of the original distribution is changed into a normal curve. The percentages of scores at each stanine are 4, 7, 12, 17, 20, 17, 12, 7, and 4, respectively."

Relationship Among Derived Scores
"It should be evident from the preceding discussion that the various types of derived scores are all derived from raw scores. The different derived scores are merely different expressions of a student's performance. One type of derived score can be converted to another type. The most frequently used conversion in the area of intelligence testing is from standard scores (for example, scaled scores or Deviation IQs) to percentile ranks. Although standard scores are the preferred derived scores, percentile ranks — and, on occasion, age equivalents—are also useful. The latter two scores may be helpful in describing the student's performance to parents or teachers.

A Normal Curve shows the relationships among various derived scores. If a test has a Deviation IQ of 100, a standard deviation of 15, and scores that are normally distributed, the percentile ranks associated with each IQ can be determined precisely. As an example, let us see how percentile ranks associated with IQs at various standard deviation points are computed.

An IQ of 100 represents the 50th percentile rank, because an IQ of 100 has been set as the mean of the distribution. In this example an IQ of 115 represents the point that is +1 SD away from the mean. The percentile rank associated with this IQ—the 84th percentile rank— is obtained by adding 50 to 34 percent. The 50 percent represents the proportion of the population below the mean of 100, and the 34 percent represents the proportion of the population between the mean and +1 SD away from the mean. The key here is to recognize that an IQ of 115 is +1 SD above the mean because 15 is the standard deviation of the distribution.

Using the same rationale, we can readily compute the percentile rank associated with an IQ of 130. An IQ of 130 is +2 SD away from the mean. We know that the area below the mean represents 50 percent of the population, the area from the mean to +1 SD represents approximately 34 percent of the population, and the area from +1 SD to +2SD represents approximately 14 percent of the population. To arrive at the percentile rank for an IQ of 130, we add the following percentages: 50 + 34 + 14 = 98th percentile rank.

What is the percentile rank associated with an IQ of 85? The answer you should obtain is the 16th percentile rank. You subtract 34 from 50, because an IQ of 85 corresponds to the point that is -1 SD away from the mean. The percentile rank associated with an IQ of 70 is the 2nd percentile rank (50 - 34 - 14 = 2).

The above examples hold only for tests that have a Deviation IQ with a mean of 100 and an SD of 15. For tests that have a mean of 100 and an SD of 16 the percentile ranks associated with the various IQs are slightly different except at the mean. The IQ of 100 is still at the 50th percentile rank, but an IQ of 116 (not 115) is at the 84th percentile rank because the 5D is 16."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cheating on the Rise Among High School Students

A new survey of American teenagers finds that academic dishonesty is rampant and getting worse at high schools. A whopping 64 percent of high school students surveyed by the Center for Youth Ethics at the Josephson Institute in Los Angeles said they had cheated on a test at least once in the past year, up from 60 percent in 2004. Thirty-eight percent said they had cheated two or more times, while another 36 percent said they had used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33 percent two years ago. Cheating on homework is also widespread; 82 percent said they had copied another student's work at least once in the past year.

The survey results underscore the pervasiveness of academic dishonesty even as schools employ more sophisticated means to catch cheaters and take a tougher stance to discourage unethical behavior. (U.S. News recently explored the efforts to stop cheating in higher education.) The students' responses raise questions about why cheating is on the rise and whether high schools should emphasize character education. Nearly 30,000 students at 100 randomly selected high schools participated in the survey; all respondents were guaranteed anonymity.

Besides cheating, 30 percent of students said they have stolen from stores. More than 8 in 10 students said they have lied to a parent about something significant. The survey finds that unethical behavior is prevalent at both public and private schools, but in some instances it happens less frequently at private schools and among honor students. Boys are more likely than girls to behave dishonestly, although there is virtually no difference when it comes to cheating.

Among the most troubling findings is that students who engage in dishonest acts still hold a positive view of themselves. For example, 93 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent said that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know." It's not clear how the behavior of public figures, including company executives involved in the financial crisis, has shaped students' cavalier attitudes. Asked if they agreed with the statement that "In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating," 59 percent answered in the affirmative.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Addition to the CTTC Blog

We have added Twitter to the blog!

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

You can always check the left-hand column of the blog to find out what is happening at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Thanks to Jeremy Zweiacker in Tech Prep, I just learned about VoiceThread (click on "What's a VoiceThread anyway?"). It's a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or phone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.

Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded on web sites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs as archival movies.

With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install.

VoiceThread offers a number of different account types. Free accounts can create presentations, add audio and text commentary, and can use most of the service's features. Pro users, in exchange for a $59.95 annual fee, get more storage space for documents, files, and video, 30 free archival exports, and some unlocked features not available in the free accounts. The free account will likely be enough for most casual users, but serious slideshow creators may use up the free account's 75MB storage limit quickly and opt for the 10GB the Pro account offers.

VoiceThread also partners with educational institutions (at little or no cost) and businesses to bring the service into the classroom or the boardroom. The service is remarkably sharp and richly featured, and it offers a truly unique and interesting way to assemble and provide feedback on multimedia of all types. The service's presentation creator is remarkably easy to use, and the sheer number of ways you can share your presentation make the service compelling.

I think there are many applications for VoiceThread. Anything from classroom assignments, projects, presentations or even a holiday greeting. Check out the Thanksgiving examples.
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