Teachers and students have suffered through the same model of educational testing for years. Sure, the SAT has changed — it’s now out of a possible 2,400 points, not 1,600 — but both standardized testing and good old in-class quizzing are still in the dominion of paper and pencil. Terascore, a Y Combinator-backed startup that launches today, is on a mission to help bring testing online.
To do that, the startup aims to provide teachers with tools that can help them create, administer and manage tests online, while making scores and results available immediately after testing. The platform also offers instant analytics for teachers to help them dig down into question quality and difficulty, along with providing a question bank for easy storage and re-use — all collectively as a way to better evaluate student performance and make testing easier on teachers.
This comes at a good time for education, as teachers are increasingly on Pinterest, students are on mobile phones, Facebook and everything in between — and even schools are beginning to be connected into various networks. Yet assessment remains offline, and teachers are left to shuffle paper and use hole-punched manilla folders to grade multiple choice tests. Terascore, in turn, wants to shorten the feedback loop for learning.
A quick and dirty way to do that? Make it easier for teachers to create new, compelling and, more importantly, factually correct, test questions. This process is a huge time sink for teachers. If you need further proof, just check out the popularity of marketplaces like TeachersPayTeachers and BetterLesson that enable educators to save themselves from the time-sink of creating Common Core-compatible lesson plans. Some teachers have netted over $1 million from selling their lesson plans to other teachers. And Terascore thinks the same opportunity exists around assessment.
The startup makes it easy for teachers to recycle questions that work and offer a browser-based, WYSIWYG-style test authoring tool for educators. Just as Mosaic was the first browser to make the Internet engaging by merging text and images, Terascore wants to be the same for teachers, allowing them to integrate images, links and videos into test to give them a level of interactivity — and keep them relevant. It also supports the inclusion of mathematic equations, and, to that point, will hopefully soon support Desmos.
Students, on the other hand, can self-register, making the process easy to get started and use on an ongoing basis. Up next, the startup plans to release an iPad app that offers a higher level of security, specifically for cheating prevention, allowing for locked-down secured testing that takes away students’ ability to look up answers.
Of course, students can still take a peek at their neighbors’ tests or use other devices, but it’s a step in the right direction. And this kind of proctoring, cheating prevention will become even more imperative as online course and learning platform proliferate — especially for those looking to offer credit. There has to be a better way to verify that students have done their own work.
Ultimately, Terascore is taking a three-pronged approach to bringing testing online through authoring (WSYWYG, the ability to embed images video, equations and question banking), delivery (control access, timing, locked-down browser app) and test results (scores and normalized grading automatically, reporting and self-assessment info after submitting). It seems an advantageous strategic approach to cover all the bases, especially given that Terascore’s competition seems to emanate largely from point solutions, and stalwarts/incumbents like Pearson.
Terascore was initially released in beta to select schools in mid-February and is being used in five different schools, which are collectively creating 500 tests per week. The platform is free for now; however, once they get some traction, the founders see themselves offering a freemium pricing model with premium features (like more robust collaboration, SIS integration etc.) offered for $7 or $9/month.
The company was founded by Balazs Moldovanyi, Adam Helybely, Zsolt Muller and Viktor Takacs, who began developing Terascore after selling their health education-focused startup to a multinational healthcare provider. The company is backed by Y Combinator and the YC-VC fund, but, because of the founders’ prior exit, Moldovanyi says, they have some runway and are looking to improve on the platform before worrying about raising more venture capital. Love to hear that.
More on Terascore at home here.