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Quick Key

A mobile grading app

Each January I have mid-year assessments with my P1, P2 and P3 students to evaluate their progress in our school-based reading scheme. This year I wanted an easy-to-use grading system and something that would self-generate reports. After a search, I found Quick Key..

Quick Key is a mobile grading app created by Validated Learning Co. In previous years I've used solely paper (and a lot of paper) to test my students and then taken their scores and converted into Microsoft Word or Excel spreadsheets. With around 300 students, that took an age. And it was painful.

My previous system was quite basic too. I could only get cumulative scores at a glance while extracting the real data to get real insight into students' learning took more data analysis. A deep dive that I didn't really have enough time, the right system, or indeed brain, to do.

My assessments always took the form of one test of ten high frequency words (HFWs) and another test of five unfamiliar words where students would be required to use their phonic decoding skills. It would be simple if there was only this one set of dual testing involved. However, in a range of approximately 300 students between P1 and P3, there are various ability groups which require different tests. So a HFW test for a group of P1 students would be drastically different for P3 and so on.

I found a great app called Rubrics last year where I was able to input student data and it provided fancy heatmap reports showing the actual words which tended to trip up my students. As there was a team of teachers testing a class of students at the same time, we still had to use paper-based testing as inserting the Rubrics app on more than one iPad with the same account meant that data on different students could be overridden easily - dangerous territory indeed. So it was painful and monotonous having to input student data after testing rather than during. Although I liked Rubrics, it wasn't feasible in the long-term.

I wanted something that all teachers could use easily and then data collected and converted into downloadable reports. Quick Key was for me! Its rapid feedback platform was great, I could access student data on my laptop or via my iPhone or iPad. It also gave instant scores and itemization reports on my iPhone.

I still used paper for collecting students’ answers as they read out the words out, but a lot less. Rather than one x A5 sheet per student, it was one x A6 (half of A5). Teachers would fill in the 'bubble sheets' (see left) and once I had collected all of them, I was able to scan all these bubble sheets quickly to collect students' data.

Before testing, I could upload my student lists via Excel .csv file and system automatically assigned them student ID numbers to keep track. The system was very impressive with its uploading and syncing speeds. If you have Google Classroom, you can also upload student lists that way too.

I found some things tricky though, For instance, there was a limit on the number of students I could upload. Even with the Pro account costing USD2.50 a month, I could only upload up to 200 students at a time.

As I had so many students, I had to be very careful how I denoted them in the Excel spreadsheet so students' class names and numbers stayed aligned. Figuring out how to do the HFW and phonics quizzes were a bit tough initially, but that's only because I was a bit stubborn and hadn't read the how-to guide properly. Isaac, the CEO, was always on hand to help me out. The help-desk response was amazing in fact, very impressive.

Here's a Quick Key video showing the main principles and how to scan the bubble sheets.

Sample report (not one of mine)

I got what I want and needed out of Quick Key - I was able to see reports and see which words students found the most difficult to inform my future teaching. I would highly recommend the app if you have fewer than 200 students to grade, but if you have more then it would be best to investigate acquiring a school account.

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