At a Glance
All students at Upper Bucks County Technical School (UBCTS) are provided multiple levels of support to help them prepare for the NOCTI exams. Students with IEPs are given additional assistance as required and needed to help them succeed on the tests.
The difference in performance on the NOCTI and NIMS assessments between UBCTS students with IEPs and those without IEPs is smaller than it is at many other secondary Perkins fiscal agents. Administrators and instructors attribute this success to several factors some of which are in place for all students while others address the specific needs of students with IEPs.
Support Provided to All UBCTS Students
Enrollment and Transition Practices
Students may enroll at UBCTS as early as freshman year; this provides an additional year of instruction before taking the end-of-program assessment. During their Level One year, students may transfer to other technical programs aligned with their interests and goals. Because this transfer occurs during freshman year students still have ample time to complete the program of study and qualify for the NOCTI assessment.
Support Throughout Enrollment
The UBCTS faculty provides all students with ongoing support to prepare them for success in their program and on the NOCTI exams. For example, eight instructional facilitators, one clinical assistant and one math instructional facilitator are on staff, and they work closely with students to help them make technical and academic progress.
Instructors administer summative assessments that are constructed similarly to NOCTI written and performance assessments. For example, multiple choice questions and hands-on, practical skill assessment is modeled such as tool/equipment identification and performing a skill within a specific amount of time.
Use of NOCTI Pre-Test Data to Guide Instruction
Instructors use the written component of pretest NOCTI results to develop their Student Learning Objectives for the year by identifying low scoring areas that call for additional instruction and remediation. Identification of these areas across multiple years of testing leads to strengthening instruction and curriculum. Instructional staff also discusses results with students to make them aware of the areas in which they need additional instruction or remediation.
Throughout students’ time at UBCTS, faculty members communicate the importance of and high expectations for their overall achievement and NOCTI performance. For example, teachers frequently discuss the exam and the opportunity to earn a Pennsylvania Skills Certificate. Staff from the sending school districts communicates this as well.
Students know they are not able to re-take the NOCTI assessment and that scores act as the final exam grade in their program. This practice encourages students to take a serious approach to the NOCTI assessment.
Supportive Environment for the NOCTI Post-Test
There are several test-taking practices UBCTS implements to support students as they prepare for and take the NOCTI post-test. A two-session schedule is mandatory for the written post-test to allow ample time for students to complete each session without feeling rushed. Students are reminded to take their time on the test, to use the “mark” button and to check for unanswered/marked questions before selecting the “score test” button. The performance assessment is scheduled for all seniors on the same day in April and underclassmen remain at their sending school on this day. A quiet, distraction free environment is maintained as only senior completers, evaluators and staff are present on campus. On the morning of the performance test, students are provided breakfast.
Support Provided Specifically to UBCTS Students with IEPs
Ongoing Support and Accommodations
The Student Services Supervisor serves as the NOCTI Coordinator and works closely with the Special Education Specialists to ensure that specifically designed instruction guides student progress and that students receive accommodations as per their IEP.
Test Awareness and Preparation
As part of the transition planning for students with IEPs, the Special Education Specialists discuss NOCTI during annual IEP meetings. Students’ pre-test scores are discussed and accommodations are revised if needed. Parents, students and high school staff are made aware of the pre- and post-testing.
Special education specialists instruct and review test-taking strategies with students. For example, they are made aware of how and why to use the “mark” button for questions they are unsure of and plan to return to, and they are made aware of the NOCTI software’s calculator feature.
To make sure accommodations are in place for the NOCTI pre-test in the fall, testing accommodations are included in the IEP that is developed during a student’s junior year.
Accommodations, such as extended time, are implemented as required and needed during testing. Students who need directions and test questions read aloud utilize the text-to-speech feature with earphones. For most students who require small group or alternate test setting, they stay in their senior classes because the technical programs are small. Accommodations are made for students who need a smaller group size or individual testing.
Upper Bucks County Technical School
Tracey Hill, Supervisor of Student Services