Category Archives: Setting up a Testing Site

The Best Headset Choices for WIDA Testing

In the past years, states across the nation have begun implementing the WIDA assessment program. WIDA develops proficiency standards and assessments for English-language learners throughout the country and has also developed the same for Spanish-language learners. Since its beginning in Wisconsin, Delaware, and Arkansas, WIDA is now used by school districts in 37 states. With WIDA, schools determine a student’s level of English when entering a school and can then place them in the correct language learning class level.

WIDA includes both listening and speaking exercises and gives recommendations for what sort of headsets will work best with the test. WIDA suggests using over-ear headphone-style headsets with microphones and stereo sound, instead of earbud-style. Lighter styles with smaller earpieces work well for younger students, while heavy-duty earpieces that sit over the entire ear are good for noise reduction and help students focus on their test exercises. Boom microphones work much better than inline microphones since they capture sound better than inline mics, which sit farther from students’ mouths. Fabric-covered cords will prevent tangling and are much more durable than rubber-covered styles. Finally, WIDA recommends having inline volume control. Since the volume cannot be adjusted once the testing software is in use, the inline volume control allows students to set the headphone volume to a comfortable level before the test begins.

While WIDA does not require any specific brand of the headset, they do have a few that they recommend. Here are three of the most popular styles among our customers for use in their WIDA testing:

  1. Hamilton Buhl Trios: The Trios headset comes equipped with both dual plugs and the TRRS plug, so it is convertible between different devices like desktops, laptops, and tablets. This makes them a great investment for school computer labs: Hamilton’s products are well-built, reliable, and can be used for a variety of applications outside of standardized testing. The Trios has a large, over-ear headphone design to help block outside noise and keep students on task.
  • AVID Education SMB-25VC: These headsets are another large over-ear design, and are heavily padded for maximum comfort. The large boom microphone can swivel up out of the way and is also adjustable to sit closer or farther from the student’s mouth so each student can achieve the perfect fit. These come with a dual plug, making them a good choice for testing environments utilizing desktop computers.
  • AVID Education AE-36: The AE-36 is possibly the most popular headset that our customers use for WIDA testing. They can be used with any laptop or desktop, and are a great choice for Chromebooks. The AE-36 comes with a 6-foot cord, which ensures that students won’t accidentally pull the cord out, even if the audio jack is in the back of the device. The padded headband and earpieces on this design keep the headphones comfortable for long-term use.

While headsets with microphones are needed for WIDA testing, purchasing a large set for school-wide testing isn’t always feasible and can be cost prohibitive. Since WIDA only recommends having three to five students working on the speaking portion of the test at a time, an affordable solution is to purchase a smaller set of headsets and combine these with headphones that can be used for the listening portion of the test. A very popular style of headphone for WIDA is the AVID Education AE-35. Similar in style to the AE-36, the AE-35 is a lightweight style with an adjustable headband that fits most students’ heads. A comfortable style for long-term use, the AE-35 is a good choice for both computer and language labs as well as classroom and school-wide headphone sets. With bulk pricing available, these headphones are not only a reliable choice for schools but are also affordable.

WIDA testing has become an important tool for school districts, and having the right equipment puts students in the best position to succeed. As schools begin to plan for the next academic year and look for headset solutions, keep these WIDA recommendations in mind!

Review: Custom Educational Furnishings CEF LC-1-30 30 Tablet Security Charging Cart

Finding the right charging cart can be an endeavor for any tech department, especially when computers and tablets need to be transported safely, locked up securely, and serve many devices at once. Whether it’s for a hospital or a classroom, the right charging security cart should not be overlooked, especially as you expect a lot of travel and use from it. The new Custom Educational Furnishings CEF LC-1-30 30-Tablet Security Charging Cart is the answer for many challenges that a school, office, or business might face when storing a number of tablets securely.

The CEF LC-1-30 first of all is a compacted cart, with its size measuring 27″W x 30″D x 40″H. At this height, the cart can double as an instructor’s station, which allows the cart to be a multi-use piece of furniture for any space.  With the cable grommet on top, instructors can use the top of car for any device that also needs charging at the same time. With the two front and back locking doors, the devices inside can stay completely secure, without any risk of a break in.

The capacity of the cart includes 30 slots divided with PVC slot dividers, and can hold devices up to 16 inches in length, 11.5 inches tall and 1.375 inches thick. The space alloted for each slot can hold most tablets on the market (such as iPads and iPad minis), and even slim notebooks like Macbook Air and Google Chromebook. In addition, each numbered slot includes a cord keeper above it, allowing for easy cord management for every device in storage.

The back of the cart features even more easy-access cord management, with easy to use surge protected outlets, handle and cord wraps for tidying up cables, and optional AC adaptor brick storage trays for devices that use brick power supply. There is also extra storage space to allow for a mounted WAP, and other materials needed for the demanding classroom or office cart.

The cabinet’s durable construction is made with double faced Melamine laminate covering the 3/4″ and 1-1/8″ – 45-48 lb. industrial grade core. And unlike other carts, the CEF LC-1-30 provides 4 different finishes, allowing you to seamlessly integrate the cart with your current classroom or office, without it standing out against other furniture pieces. The four finishes include: grey nebula, natural oak, grey tenino, and cherry. The top and bottom of the cart is done in a black finish and with radius corners for safety and aesthetics, blending the entire look of the cart into a piece that is modern, functional, and consistent. The cart comes with four 5-inch soft balloon wheel casters that swivel and lock, while allows the cart to glide smoothly on all types of surfaces without damaging stored devices, and can stay mobile and stationary at a moment’s notice. Overall, it is a strong assembly that can withstand all types of environments, from a busy classroom with moving students, or quick and constant mobility up and down hospital floors.

Assembled by hand and made in the U.S., this cart can also be fitted with an optional 7 day programmable timer that can be programmed with different charging options, and wide spaced outlets that will allow wider plug heads to be plugged in at once and altogether. In addition, the cart comes with a 10 year warranty, a limited lifetime warranty on the surge protector, and a year warranty on the optional programmable timer. Overall, with its standard and custom options, the CEF LC-1-30 security charging cart can be a great asset to schools, hospitals, offices, libraries, and more. To order your cart today or see other security charging carts, check out our catalog or contact us.

Review: Hamilton Buhl Trios Multi-Media Headset w/ Gooseneck Mic

As technology use in the classroom grows, it is important to have quality equipment that will work with all your devices, old or new. In addition, you want your equipment to withstand the tests of time and continuous use. However, it can be difficult finding a model that will suit your needs, in quality and durability. If you’re looking for a headset that can easily connect to any device and stand up to all types of environments, you should look no further than the Hamilton Buhl Trios Multi-Media Headset with Gooseneck Mic.

The Trios Multimedia headset sets a new industry standard by providing all you need to connect to any device in one headset. The Trios provides three, color-coded plugs, held together using chew and kink-resistant Dura-cord. The special properties of the Dura-cord allow for the cables to stay intact and reduce wear and tear, time after time. The pink and green plugs provide a microphone and stereo audio option for computers with separate inputs, which will not compromise the sound quality to and from the headset. For devices that need only a TRRS plug (serving both stereo audio and microphone uses), the black plug is already built into the headset. By providing the three plugs, the Trios eliminates the need for other headsets, and saves classrooms, offices, or tech departments from switching between different models. For a classroom that might switch from using a PC to a iPad, the Trios makes the transition easy, saving the teacher and students time for learning. It also allows for the headset to easily be connected to media players or video game consoles–a must-have for a classroom that is expanding its device use.

The build of the headset makes for a sturdy yet comfortable fit. Using over-ear leatherette ear cushions, the headset is built for noise isolation, which allows for the 40mm ABS magnet speakers shine, making it perfect for a busy and load environment. The rest of the headset utilizes leatherette padding along the headband, making it comfortable for long-term use. The headband also folds up, making it easy to store away.

The gooseneck microphone is a smart design choice: its flexibility allows for the use of the microphone to be adjusted at any angle, or be moved away when not in use. So students can Skype their international penpals one hour, but move on to their audio language lesson the next, without changing their headsets.

The Trios headset is easy to sanitize. Using the Hamilton Buhl HygenX portable sanitizer system, or by using your own sanitary wipes and changing the disposable ear cushion covers, you can keep your headsets protected from germs and grime. The easy sanitation not only makes your classrooms safer, but the Trios can be utilized in public settings, such as libraries, testing centers, call centers and more.

Overall, it is built to last physically, and maintain a future-proof status by eliminating the need to switch out headsets. For a classroom that is growing its capacity and need for durable and high-quality technology, the Trios headset is worth its cost. Not only can it be a time saver in the classroom, but it can also travel safely from room to room, or in a student’s backpack. It’s made to last, especially since the tri-plug allows it to always be able to connect to a device, new or old.

We are selling the Hamilton Buhl Trios headset at only $19.99 each, with gives you almost $14 in savings per pair. So pre-order your Trios headsets today through our website for shipping by the end of February, or contact us for more information.

How to Set Up Your Educational Testing Site

Whether you need it for school assessments, standardized state exams, or national assessments like Advanced Placement or the GRE, having a well-equipped testing facility is important for maintaining the security of the tests according to their instructions, and for the comfort of the students. Here are a few things to  keep in mind when setting up your testing site.

1. Establish the space for the test site. 

Many standardized tests requires certain components for a testing site to be deemed appropriate for the test. The room for testing should be comfortable, but also lack distractions and follow the particular needs of the test.

For example, a test’s specifications might require that students be separated by at least 2 feet on each side to prevent cheating, or that at least 1 proctor be present for every 10 students in a large room. Students may be taking their exam on computers. Therefore, the normal computer lab might need to be re-oriented so it’s impossible for students to peer at other screens. Or, because you need more space, you might need to move the testing center into a bigger room than the normal computer lab.

Finding the right room, therefore, is an important part to establishing the right testing site. Having flexible furniture, especially for tech-assisted or tech-required exams, can help you prepare your examination room.

2. Have a logistics plan for the entire campus.

It’s a good idea to think about the test site within its broader context. This is especially important when only particular classes or grades are being tested, while the rest of the school undergoes normal operations. For example, are only 9th graders tested, while the rest of the school follows the regular class schedule? What can students and teachers do to minimize distraction when students move between classes, especially if other classrooms are in testing mode? Will the school bell be turned off, or will periods for particular classes grow longer while the testing is in effect?

Having a strategic plan in mind for those situations is important. Whether it’s assigning a new period schedule to keep students in class, or ensuring that quiet and respectful movement is done in the hallways to minimize noise, having a plan administered to teachers and staff will help reduce any stress or anxiety for students and teachers come testing day.

3. Make sure your equipment is compatible for the test.

Whether you need a tape player and recorder to administer and record individual student test responses, or must have the updated hardware and software on school computers with headphones for administrating online exams, make sure that your technology is up to speed come testing day.

The same goes for testing rooms, where exams might need a projector or large speaker system for students to listen to their questions. Make sure that your projector, visual presenter, or document camera can be used for your exam, and what other components need to be in the room. Test all components before exam day to ensure that nothing with go amiss or waste time during the testing.

In addition, it’s important to note what devices are prohibited while testing. For example, while you might use a wireless headphone system for in-school exams, it’s possible that your wireless headphone system is prohibited during a national exam. Or, personal headphones might be prohibited, while classroom-provided headphones are required in order for students to complete certain sections of the exam. Again, check the requirements and prohibited lists given by the test administrators, or call their support line. If some items are questionable, it’s better to err towards prohibiting them yourself in order to avoid invalidating the students’ exams.

Establishing ease and control of the assessment site is an important part for maintaining the integrity of the site and test results, which can help by providing quality sound and listening devices. For help picking out listening equipment, contact us. We can help you customize your options for your test specifications.