Features of the Student Testing Application

This section describes the layout of the student testing application and the available testing tools. Note that tools and features vary depending on the test being taken; not all tools are available for all tests.

Test Layout

Figure 1 shows the main sections of the layout for a test page (i.e., screen) that includes a stimulus.

The test layout with the global menu, stimulus section, and question section identified (Within the question section, the question number, context menu, stem, and response area are called out.)

Figure 1. Sample test layout

A test page can include the following sections:

  • The Global Menu section displays the global navigation and tool buttons. The banner above the Global Menu displays the Questions drop-down list, test information, [Help] question mark [?] button, and [System Settings] cog wheel [] button.
  • The Stimulus section appears only for questions associated with a stimulus. A stimulus is a reading passage or other testing material (such as a video or graphic) that a student reviews to answer associated questions. This section contains the stimulus content (such as a reading passage or graphic), context menu, and Expand Passage tool.
  • The Question section contains one or more test questions (also known as “items”). Each question includes a number, context menu, stem, and response area.

For more information about the global menu and context menus, refer to the subsection Using Menus and Tools.

Test Tools

This section provides an overview of the TDS’ available tools.

Figure 2 shows the location of primary features and tools available in the TDS.

Test page, with the navigation buttons, End Test button, test tools, questions toggle, context menu, and help and location of the settings buttons identified

Figure 2. Test page

Table 1 lists the global tools available to students in the testing application.

Table 1. Global Tools

Global Tool Instructions

Calculator

To use the on-screen calculator, the student selects the [Calculator] [] icon.

Dictionary

To look up definitions and synonyms in the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus, the student selects the [Dictionary] open book [] icon.

Formula

To view the on-screen formula (also called science reference) sheet, the student selects the [Formula] xy2 [] icon in the global menu.

Help

To view the on-screen Help Guide window, the student selects the [Help] question mark [] icon in the upper-right corner.

Line Reader

The student moves an on-screen horizontal line that surrounds each line of text with shading after selecting the [Line Reader] line [Outline of a flat oval shape] icon. This tool is not available while the Highlighter tool is in use.

Masking

The student takes the following steps to temporarily cover a distracting area of the test page:

  1. Select the [Masking] square [Box with the corners highlighted] icon.
  2. Select and drag across the distracting area.
  3. Release the mouse button.
  4. To close the masking tool, select [Masking] again.

Notes

To enter notes in the on-screen notepad, the student selects the [Notes] paper and pencil [Pencil on a piece of paper] icon. These notes are available globally and can be accessed from any page in the test.

Pause

To pause a test, select the [Pause] parallel lines [] icon. Pausing logs the student off the test.

Periodic Table

To view the on-screen periodic table, the student selects the [Periodic Table] [] icon in the global menu.

Print Page

To print a test item when print-on-demand has been enabled, the student selects the [Print Page] printer [] icon.

Print Passage

To print a reading passage when print-on-demand has been enabled, the student selects the [Print Passage] printer [] icon.

System Settings

To adjust audio volume or the rate and pitch of speech for text-to-speech during the test, the student selects the [System Settings] cog wheel [] icon in the upper-right corner. A student testing on a mobile device cannot use this tool to adjust volume. To adjust audio volume on a mobile device, the student must use the device’s built-in volume control.
Transcripts To view a transcript of the audio content for the current test page, the student selects the [Transcripts] [] icon in the global menu. The text in transcripts can be read by a screen reader.

Zoom buttons

To enlarge the text and images on a test page, the student selects the [Zoom In] magnifying glass (plus) [] icon. The student can zoom in up to four levels. To undo zooming, the student selects the [Zoom Out] magnifying glass (minus) [] icon.

Table 2 lists the other tools available to students in the testing application.

Table 2. Context Menu and On-Screen Tools

Context Menu Tool Instructions
American Sign Language (ASL)

To view audio content translated into ASL via an on-screen video, the student selects American Sign Language from the context menu.

The student takes the following steps to view ASL videos:

  1. From the context menu, select American Sign Language [ ].
  2. If only one ASL video is available, the video opens automatically.

If multiple ASL videos are available, sign language [Hand] icons appear next to the test content for each video. The student may select the icon for the test content to translate into ASL.

Closed Captioning Questions and stimuli with audio elements automatically display closed captions for a student testing with the appropriate accommodations. Selecting an [Up] up arrow [] icon or [Down] down arrow [] icon moves the closed-captioning box to the top or bottom of the testing area, and selecting the [Close] “X” [] icon closes the closed-captioning box.
Expand Item and Passage

Test questions (items) in the right pane of the testing screen can be expanded to cover the width of the whole screen. When used in conjunction with the expand passage universal tool—that is, expand passage is not turned off by the test administrator—the student can use this tool to expand either passages or questions. (This tool is the default expansion tool in the CAAs for ELA and mathematics.)

  • To expand the passage section, the student selects the right arrow [] icon below the global menu. To collapse the expanded passage section, the student selects the left arrow [] icon in the upper-right corner.
  • To expand the question section, the student selects the left arrow [] icon below the global menu. To collapse the expanded question section, the student selects the right arrow [] icon in the upper-left corner.
Expandable Passages When the expand item universal tool has been turned off by the test administrator or test examiner, the student uses the arrows [] icon in the upper-right corner to expand the passage to cover the entire screen.
Glossary (Word List) To open the glossary, the student selects a word or phrase that has a border around it. If translated glossary resources are being used (mathematics and science only), the student has the option of hearing the glossary item read aloud by selecting the [Speaker] icon.
Highlighter

To highlight text, the student selects the text on the screen and then selects Highlight Selection from the context menu. To remove highlighting, the student selects Reset Highlighting from the context menu.

Text in images cannot be highlighted. This tool is not available while the line reader tool is in use. Highlighting persists only during a single test session.

Mark for Review To mark a question for review, the student selects Mark for Review from the context menu. The question number displays a flap in the upper-right corner, like this: Sample question number with flap; and a [Mark for Review] check mark [Test question 1 tab with a check mark] appears next to the number. The Questions toggle list displays a flag [Question number 1 with the flag symbol] for the selected question.
Notepad

To enter notes for a question, the student selects Notepad from the context menu. After the student enters a note, the [Notepad] note [Pencil on a notepad with a checkmark] icon appears next to the question number.

The student can access notes only for a question on that question’s test page.

Print Item To send a print request for an individual question, the student selects Print Item from the context menu. After sending the request, the [Printer] [] icon appears next to the question number.
Strikethrough

For selected-response questions, the student can cross out an answer option to focus on the options the student thinks might be correct. There are two options for using this tool:

  • Option A:
    1. To activate Strikethrough mode, the student opens the context menu and select Strikethrough.
    2. The student selects each answer option to strike out.
    3. To deactivate Strikethrough mode, the student presses the [Esc] key or selects outside the question’s response area.
  • Option B:
    1. The student right-clicks an answer option and selects Strikethrough.
Speech-to-Text The student selects the [Microphone] [Speech-to-text microphone button for dictating responses] icon in the formatting toolbar of the item response area to dictate responses to CR items. The dictated response is transcribed as text in the item response area.
Text-to-Speech To listen to passages and questions, the student selects a Speak option from the context menu. To listen to CR content, the student selects the [Speaker] [] icon in the writing tools bar.
Tutorial To view a short video demonstrating how to respond to a particular question type, the student selects Tutorial from the context menu.

Using Menus and Selected Tools

This section describes how to use the global and context menus to access on-screen tools. This section also provides further details for using some of the student testing application tools.

About the Global Menu

The global menu at the top of the test page contains navigation buttons on the left and tools on the right (refer to figure 3).

Test delivery system global menu with the navigation buttons and test tools indicated

Figure 3. Global menu

To open a test tool in the global menu:

  1. The student selects the button for the tool. The selected test tool activates.

About the Context Menus

Each test question may include several elements, such as the question number and answer options (refer to figure 1). The context menu for each element (including the stimulus) only contains tools applicable to that element (figure 4).

Mathematics practice test question with the context menu displaying the Tutorial, Mark for Review, and Notepad resources that are available

Figure 4. Context menu for a mathematics question

Opening a Context Menu for Passages and Questions

A student can access context menus by right-clicking elements or by selecting elements and then selecting the context menu button.

To access the context menu for a passage or question:

  1. The student selects the [Context Menu] parallel line [] icon in the upper-right corner of the passage or question. The context menu opens.
  2. The student selects a tool to activate or open it. Figure 5 shows a context menu for a sample ELA item.

    top of a sample passage with the context menu open to show 'highlight selection'

    Figure 5. Context menu for ELA passage (sample screen)

Opening a Context Menu for Answer Options

A student can use the context menu to access tools for answer options in a multiple-choice or multiselect question.

To access an answer option’s context menu:

  1. To open the context menu, the student performs one of the following actions:
    • If the student is using a two-button mouse, right-click an answer option.
    • If the student is using a single-button mouse, select an answer option while pressing the [Ctrl] key.
    • If the student is using a Chromebook, select an answer option while pressing the [Alt] key.
    • If the student is using a tablet, the student taps the answer option and then taps the [Context Menu] icon; this selects the answer option until selecting a different option.
  2. The student selects a tool from the context menu. Figure 6 shows a context menu for a sample ELA item.

    Sample context menu showing the tutorial and mark for review, notepad, highlighter and strikethrough resources for a set of ELA answer options

    Figure 6. Context menu for ELA answer options (sample screen)

About the Masking Tool

A students who has masking as a designated support can use the Masking tool to hide sections of the test page the student finds distracting (figure 7).

Sample student question with masking (i.e., a black box) applied to a portion of the answer options. The Masking button is called out in the top-right corner.

Figure 7. Test page with masked area (sample screen)

To mask an area of a test page:

  1. To activate the Masking tool, the student selects [Masking] in the global menu. The button changes color and becomes orange.
  2. The student selects and drag across the distracting area of the test page using the mouse (desktop or laptop) or a finger (tablet).
  3. The student releases the mouse button or lifts a finger. The selected area becomes dark gray. The tool remains active until the student deactivates it.

To deactivate the masking tool:

  1. The student selects [Masking] in the global menu again. The button becomes green. Any masked area remains on the screen until the student removes it.

To remove a masked area from a test page:

  1. The student selects the [X] in the upper-right corner of a masked area. Note that this does not delete any masked area on the screen.

About the Line Reader Tool

A student moves an on-screen horizontal line that surrounds each line of text with shading after selecting the [Line Reader] line icon (indicated in figure 8). To move the line reader, the student selects (clicks) anywhere on the next line to be shaded.

A line of text selected by the line reader, with the Line Reader button indicated

Figure 8. Line Reader (sample screen)

  • This universal tool applies to both items and passages.
  • Selecting an answer option with the line reader universal tool also will cause an option such as a radio button or checkbox to be selected.
    • If the student selects the “Option B” radio button in a vertical list of answer options, selecting (clicking) Option B’s text will both shade the line of text in the line reader and select that answer option as the student’s response to the test question (figure 9). Students must select a line of text away from a radio button answer option—in a passage or the test question, for example—to unselect the selected line as the focus of the line reader universal tool. However, that answer option is still selected as the student’s response unless or until the student selects a different option.

    Screen capture of training test response radio buttons with an option highlighted and selected using the line reader resource

    Figure 9. Line Reader with a radio button(sample screen)

  • For answer options with checkboxes, if the student selects the third option’s checkbox in a vertical list of answer options, selecting (clicking) the third option’s text will both shade the line of text in the line reader and select that answer option as one of the student’s responses to the test question (figure 10). Students must select a line of text away from a checkbox answer option—in a passage or the test question, for example—to unselect the selected line as the focus of the line reader universal tool. However, that answer option is still selected as one of the student’s responses unless or until the student selects the checkbox to unselect it.

    Practice test answer options showing the an option highlighted by the line reader resource

    Figure 10. Line Reader with checkboxes (sample screen)

About Text-to-Speech

Students testing with text-to-speech can listen to passages, questions, answer options (figure 11), and responses to CR items (figure 12). Text-to-speech is only available for operational testing when using the secure browser and only when assigned as an embedded accommodation (Smarter Balanced for ELA and CSA reading passages) or designated support (mathematics, ELA, CAST, and CSA items). Text-to-speech is only available for the practice tests in conjunction with a supported Chrome or Firefox web browser.

For information about configuring text-to-speech, refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing.

Sample test question, with the context menu displayed and the Speak Option and Speak Question resources called out.

Figure 11. Speak tool options for questions (sample screen)

To listen to question content with the text-to-speech tool:

  • To listen to a passage, a student opens the passage context menu and select a Speak option, either Speak Question (stimuli or passage),Speak Option (test question), or from both menu options. The student can also select a portion of text to listen to, such as a word or phrase. To do this, the student selects the text, opens the passage context menu, and selects Speak Selection.
  • To listen to a question or answer options, a student opens the question context menu and selects one of the following Speak options:
    • To listen only to the question, the student selects Speak Question.
    • To listen to a multiple-choice question and all answer options, the student selects Speak Question and Options.
    • To listen only to an answer option, the student selects the answer option and then selects Speak Option from the context menu. The student can also right-click the answer option and select Speak Option.

To listen to a written response, the student selects the [Speaker] icon to hear what has been entered into the response area (indicated in figure 12).

Response area with the Speaker indicated

Figure 12. [Speaker] icon in a response (sample screen)

About Speech-to-Text

The speech-to-text tool allows a student to dictate responses to items that support the use of speech-to-text. The student’s spoken words are then transcribed as text in the item response area (refer to figure 13).

For information about configuring text-to-speech, refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing.

Sample test question with 'This is an example of speech to text' in the response area and the Microphone indicated above the response area

Figure 13. Speech-to-text response

To begin dictating, the student selects the [Microphone] [Speech-to-text microphone button for dictating responses] icon that is displayed at the top of the item’s text response area. Note the following about the student’s use of speech-to-text:

  • The formatting toolbar scrolls along with the page and remains visible while the item is in focus.
  • As the student speaks, the words are transcribed into the text response area. However, there may be a slight delay while the text is being transcribed and dots appear in the text response area to indicate that the transcription is in process.
  • Students can dictate for five minutes at a time.
  • The entered text may be auto punctuated. The student can also control the punctuation and grammar of the text through speech commands to some extent. For example, the student can say, “New Paragraph” to create a new paragraph.
  • It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the transcription as well as grammar and punctuation.
  • The student selects the [Microphone] icon to stop dictating.

Text Response Formatting Toolbar

In addition to the standard test tools described in the subsection Test Tools, students can use a formatting toolbar for part 2 of the ELA PT above the response field for text response questions (refer to figure 14). The formatting toolbar allows students to apply styling to text and use standard word-processing features.

Writing toolbar, with buttons for Bold, Italics, Underline, Superscript, Numbered List, Bulleted List, Left Indentation, Right Indentation, Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo, Spell Check, and Symbols

Figure 14. Text response question with Formatting toolbar

Table 3 provides an overview of the formatting tools available.

Table 3. Description of Formatting Tools

Tool Description of Function
Screen capture of the buttons for bold (shows an uppercase B), italicize (shows an italicized I), and underline (shows an underlined U) Bold, italicize, or underline selected text
Italicized and underlined T with a subscript X next to it Remove formatting that was applied to the selected text
Vertical list with 1 and 2 and horizontal lines next to themTwo circles stacked vertically with horizontal lines next to them Insert a numbered or bulleted list
Horizontal lines with an arrow pointing to the right Indent a line of selected text
Horizontal lines with an arrow pointing to the left Decrease indent of text
An open pair of scissors Cut selected text
Two pieces of stacked paper Copy selected text
Piece of paper with a box of horizontal lines on top of it Paste copied or cut text
Arrow pointing to the left Undo the last edit to text or formatting in the response field
Arrow pointing to the right Redo the last undo action
Letters 'a,' 'b,' and 'c' with a check mark Use spell check to identify potentially misspelled words in the response field
Omega character Add a special character in the response field

Spell Check

The spell check tool identifies words in the ELA PT or CAST response field that may be misspelled.

To use spell check:

  1. In the toolbar, the student selects the [Spell Check] a-b-c [Letters 'a,' 'b,' and 'c' with a check mark] icon. Potentially incorrect words change color and become underlined.
  2. To exit spell check, the student selects the [Spell Check] a-b-c [Letters 'a,' 'b,' and 'c' with a check mark] icon again.

Special Characters

Students can add mathematical characters, accented characters, and other symbols to their ELA PT responses.

To add a special character:

  1. In the toolbar, the student selects the [Special Characters] omega [Omega character] icon.
  2. In the window that pops up, the student selects the required character (refer to figure 15).

    Select Special Character window

    Figure 15. Select Special Character window

Keyboard Navigation for Students

Students can use keyboard commands to navigate between test elements, features, and tools.

Sign-In Pages and In-Test Pop-ups

Table 4 lists keyboard commands for selecting options on the sign-in pages (i.e., screens) or pop-up windows that appear during a test.

Table 4. Keyboard Commands for Sign-In Pages and Pop-Up Windows

Keyboard Command Function
[Tab] Move to the next option
[Shift] + [Tab] Move to the previous option
[Enter] Select the active option
[Spacebar] Mark checkbox
Arrow keys Scroll through drop-down list options
[Esc] Close pop-up window

Keyboard Commands for Test Navigation

Table 5 lists keyboard commands for navigating tests and responding to questions.

Table 5. Keyboard Commands for Test Navigation

Keyboard Command Description of Function
[↑] (up arrow) Scroll up
[↓] (down arrow) Scroll down
[→] (right arrow) Scroll to the right
[←] (left arrow) Scroll to the left
[Tab] Move to the next element
[Shift] + [Tab] Move to the previous element
[Spacebar] Select an answer option
[Ctrl] + [→] (right arrow) Go to the next test page
[Ctrl] + [←] (left arrow) Go to the previous test page
[Ctrl] + [G] Open the global menu
[Ctrl] + [M] Open a context menu

Keyboard Commands for Global and Context Menus

Students can use keyboard commands to access tools in the global and context menus. For more information about tools, refer to table 1.

Global Menu

To access the global menu tools using keyboard commands:

  1. The student presses [Ctrl] + [G]. The global menu list opens.
  2. To move between options in the global menu, the student uses the [Up] or [Down] arrow key.
  3. To select an option, the student presses [Enter].
  4. To close the global menu without selecting an option, the student presses [Esc].

Context Menus

  1. To navigate to an element, the student presses [Tab].
  2. To navigate in reverse, the student presses [Shift] + [Tab].
  3. The student presses [Ctrl] + [M]. The context menu for the selected element opens.
  4. To move between options in the context menu, the student uses the [Up] or [Down] arrow key.
  5. To select an option, the student presses [Enter].
  6. To close the context menu without selecting an option, the student presses [Esc].

To select text and open context menu options:

  1. The student navigates to the element containing the text to be selected.
  2. The student presses [Ctrl] + [M] to open the context menu.
  3. If multiple options are available, the student uses the arrow keys to navigate to [Enable Text Selection].
  4. The student presses [Enter]. A flashing cursor appears at the upper-left corner of the active element.
  5. To move the cursor to the beginning of the text the student wants to select, the student uses the arrow keys.
  6. The student presses [Shift] and an arrow key to select text. The text the student selects appears shaded.
  7. The student presses [Ctrl] + [M] again and then chooses the tool to use for the selected text, for example, Highlight Selection.

Keyboard Commands for Grid Questions

Technology-enhanced questions with the grid response area (figure 16) may have up to three main sections:

  1. Answer Space: The grid area where students enter the response
  2. Button Row: Action buttons may appear above the answer space. Buttons may include [Delete], [Add Point], [Add Arrow], [Add Line], [Add Circle], [Add Dashed Line], and [Connect Line]
  3. Object Bank: A panel containing objects students can move to the answer space

Sample grid question, with the object bank, button row, and answer space identified

Figure 16. Grid question

To move between the main sections:

  1. To move clockwise, the student presses [Tab].
  2. To move counterclockwise, the student presses [Shift] + [Tab].

To add an object to the answer space:

  1. With the object bank active, the student uses the arrow keys to move between objects. The active object has a blue background.
  2. To add the active object to the answer space, the student presses [Spacebar].

To use the action buttons:

  1. With the button row active, the student uses the left and right arrow keys to move between the buttons. The active button is white.
  2. To select a button, the student presses [Enter].
  3. The student presses [Spacebar] to apply the point, arrow, or line to the answer space.

To move objects and graph elements in the answer space:

  1. With the answer space active, the student presses [Enter] to move between the objects.
  2. The student presses [Spacebar]. The active object displays a blue border.
  3. The student presses an arrow key to move the object. To move the object in smaller increments, the student holds [Shift] while pressing an arrow key.

Keyboard Commands for Equation Questions

Equation questions allow students to use keyboard commands to open a menu listing the special characters they can insert into the response area.

To insert special characters in the response area:

  1. With the focus in the text field of the response area, the student presses [Alt] + [7]. The Special Characters window opens.
  2. To move between options in the context menu, the student uses the [Up] or [Down] arrow key.
  3. To add the selected option to the response area, the student presses [Enter].