The Modern “ScanTron”

UPDATE: See my post on introducing GradeCam to my faculty for the 2014-2015 school year!

As a student, I dreaded ScanTron tests.  In high school, one of my classes was right across the hall from where the ScanTron grading machine was located, and I remember constantly hearing a noise, which can only be described as a machine gun-like, as the teachers shot the answer sheets through and the grader marked incorrect answers.  I never thought much of it until I was a first-year teacher myself, and my school was fortunate enough to have a ScanTron machine.  Each time I shot answer sheets through, I would cross my fingers, hoping for a “quiet” passage, cringing every time I heard that all too familiar rapid-fire of wrong answers being marked.

While I think ScanTrons are fairly common in high schools, they are much more rare at the lower levels.  When I worked in an elementary school, we did not have a ScanTron machine which, while not the end of the world, would have made the grading process for end of unit exams, much, much easier.  Many schools, in fact, are like this – there are teachers that, if they had this technology available to them (ScanTrons are fairly expensive and some schools can’t justify the cost), would most likely use it.  This is what lead me to find these two great programs, both of which attempt to solve the “ScanTron-less School” issue.

Created by a team of educators through a KickStarter fund, this website and iPhone/iPad app combination work similarly to a traditional ScanTron machine.  Teachers load students into the program, either through their mobile device or computers, and then print out the program’s unique answer sheets.  These answer sheets can be used in conjunction with any previsouly created test, quiz, or exam.  Teachers then use their mobile devices to scan the answer sheets.  Answers are uploaded directly to the program, allowing for teachers to see quiz item analysis, student progress, and download CSV files to upload to nearly any gradebook (their claim).

Pros:

  1. FREE to use
  2. up to 30 questions per quiz/test/exam
  3. iPhone/iPad app to scan answer sheets (from developer – Android app in development phase)
  4. item analysis and student progress can be accessed from phone or computer
  5. still in the beginning phases, so lots of new updates can, hopefully, be anticipated (confirmed by developer)

Cons:

  1. Answers need to be bubbled in extremely dark (think black pen or marker) to be scanned
  2. website is basic, although it gives all the needed information
  3. answer sheets need to be printed – making copies from a blank master sheet tends to not work well when it comes time to scan
photo 1 (1)

QuickKey answer sheet with bubbles filled in with heavy, black pen in order to register on the scanner.

This program has been around longer than Quick Key, so while the two programs essentially do the same thing, their website is more streamlined and offers a few more options.  With GradeCam, teachers load their students into the website and print off GradeCam’s custom answer sheets for students to fill out.  Answer sheets are graded by placing them under a camera attached to the computer – according to their website, most webcams or document cameras will work.  The camera scans the answers and the computer instantly grades the assignment.  The one notable aspect of GradeCam is that it has three access levels for its users – a basic, free package (limited to 10 questions a quiz, cannot export grades to gradebook), a mid level package ($15/month, limited to 100 questions a quiz, link CCSS to assignments, export to gradebook), or a school package ($2.50/student/year, same as mid-level package, with some additional features).

Pros:

  1. item analysis and student progress can be accessed through the website (also charts this data in graphs for you)
  2. user-friendly website
  3. Custom student ID numbers
  4. Can easily scan answer sheets with eraser marks or where bubbles are lightly filled in with pencil
photo 2 (1)

QuickCam answer sheets with bubbles that get progressively lighter – all were easily scanned into the system.

Cons:

  1. No mobile app, for either Android or iPhone/iPad
  2. free account limited to only 10 questions per assignment
  3. Additional (and beneficial) features, like exporting to a gradebook, are pay-only for $15/month

Do you use either of these program?  Do you know of one I missed?  Let me know in the comments section!

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6 thoughts on “The Modern “ScanTron”

  1. GradeCam was my mom’s idea, when she was teaching 7th grade language arts. My brother developed the software starting when he was 18. At that time, document cameras didn’t exist and it was just the round ball logitech. We made over 3000 wood document cameras by attaching webcams to wood bases in our kitchen. We cut the bases out in my dad’s woodshop; he was a high school teacher (and also the inventor of the digital hall pass timer.) 10 years of investment and struggle later, we’re gaining millions of users proving that this is a viable alternative to expensive Scantron machines. As a teacher my mom was an over achiever, and she needed a powerful formative assessment tool. We’re still driven by her passion for bringing formative assessment into the classroom.

    A few notes.
    -GradeCam will scan up to 100 questions.
    -Accuracy is unparalleled. No dark marks needed. Real world scribbles work near flawlessly. (Even highlighters will work). Folded, creased, no problem. My brother’s genius is remarkable. Check the scanning demo clip out here: http://youtu.be/QTIzV78nsNw
    -GradeCams technology is used by almost a dozen other companies now. We’re constantly improving the accuracy and speed in order to ensure that it works as flawlessly as possible to serve the millions of students using it in the classroom.
    -Exporting to GradeBook is free with all versions of GradeCam. With one button it pushes the scores into any gradebook.
    -We’re compatible with all the major document cameras (that took a lot of work.)
    -There is an iPad app. We’re working on Android an iPhone now.
    -Premium version is free for 90 days + 3 more months for each referral.

    Thanks!
    -Rich

    • Thanks for that unbiased comment…

      Sorry, but hole-punching an answer key to superimpose is not much slower than GradeCam and costs $180/year less…

  2. I love the GradeCam! Alas, at “$2.50/student/year” our small university would pay about three times what we pay for 2 Scantron machines and Parscore software maintenance annually.

  3. Pingback: Getting on Board with GradeCam | The Redhead Tech Teacher

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