Spring has arrived, and with it, the school standardized testing season. Throughout the country, students will soon be taking state tests. TELPAS, PARCC WCAP, SBAC and more. Educators and testing coordinators preparing for testing will need headsets for use with the test so that students can complete listening comprehension and speaking exercises. Many state tests have requirements for these headsets to make sure they will be compatible with the testing software, and schools will need to navigate these requirements to find a headset style that will work and fit their budget. In this post, we outline headset requirements and spotlight some of the most popular styles for schools to purchase.
So, what are the headset requirements?
Some testing requires headsets used must have a microphone for speaking exercises and must sit on the students’ ears and not in them (meaning that earbud styles are excluded). Using an over-the-ear headphone style instead of earbuds can be more comfortable for most students and allows them to fully focus on the test. Headsets must have a double earpiece (no single-ear styles), have stereo sound, and utilize a single, 3.5mm TRRS plug to connect into the computer. Styles with a single TRRS plug will simplify set-up, as teachers and students won’t need to deal with multiple plugs for earphones and microphones. Additional requirements are:
Driver unit size: 32mm
Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Microphone Frequency Response: 100 – 12,000 Hz
Microphone Impedance: 3,320 Ohms
Using the right headsets for testing is essential so that student responses are clear and can be properly assessed.
Encore Data Products carries a wide range of headsets that fit these requirements. Here are some of the most popular styles used by our customers for testing:
The AE-36 has long been widely used with WIDA and state testing while the AE-55 was designed with the TELPAS test in mind. The AE-36 is a lighter weight headset with on-ear cups -- the AE-55 includes a wider band and over-ear cups. The ambidextrous design of the AE-55 allows the microphone to rotate 270 degrees, so students can put these headsets on in either direction and the microphone will work. Both headsets come with a Velcro tie that will keep cords from tangling with each other when the headsets are stored. The leatherette earpads are easy to clean and can be wiped down between uses.
Slick, comfortable, and awesome quality, the Cyber Acoustic AC-204 headphones is a great choice for testing. The adjustable, over the head design fits comfortably on any head size, and the flexible, noise-cancelling boom mic's 180-degree rotation gets the job done, no matter your preference. With the included Y-adapter the AC-204 is backwards compatible with all other hardware.
The durable and sleek ST2BK Smart-Trek deluxe headset is versatile and compatible with a wide variety of technologies. Its adjustable headband snaps easily into place to fit students of all ages. The ear cups are made with high-quality leatherette ear cushions that are easy to clean, durable, and provide excellent noise-isolation. Smart-Trek headsets feature a durable, flexible, steel-reinforced gooseneck microphone and trusted Dura-Cord™ - the chew, kink and knot-resistant, PVC-jacketed, braided nylon cord.
ThinkWrite headsets have a larger earpiece that is meant to fit over the student ’s entire ear. This guarantees comfort during applications requiring the student to wear the headset for a long period of time. Volume control on the cord allows students to adjust audio volume as needed. The microphone has a stiff plastic arm for maximum durability; it can also swivel up out of the way when not needed or when the headsets are stored. ThinkWrite headsets have a wide range of applications in addition to TELPAS, making them a good investment for computer and language labs.
These headsets are some of the most affordable styles for schools and are disposable, which means inexpensive and designed for limited use; yet these budget school headphones with microphone can actually last quite awhile with proper care. The SN250M come with foam ear cushions, steel-reinforced gooseneck microphone and single TRRS plug. Designed with maximum functionality and affordability in mind. They feature an omni-directional boom mic for ease of use.
With any of these headsets, students will not be hindered by unreliable or incorrect equipment. Instead, students will be able to focus entirely on their exam, enabling them to achieve their highest potential. As testing kicks off for some schools (and wraps up for others), we wish all students good luck on their exams this spring and in the fall!