In two years, Common Core State Standard assessments will be administered to students in both ELA and math. Both consortia appointed funding for test development, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), have noted they intend to develop technology-based assessments.
According to EdWeek, the purpose of using technology is to help with “interactive test questions, simulations, new graphics, and faster exam results.”
In order to help districts prepare, both consortia issued technology guidelines, meant to help districts as they make annual technology purchases. The guidelines released by PARCC in April 2012 include:
- 1 GB RAM or greater
- 9.5 in or larger screen
- Windows 7
- Mac 10.7
- wired or wireless internet
Earlier this year, both consortia surveyed schools and districts across the country to gather information about tech-readiness. However, the amount of information collected was much lower than expected. According to EdWeek, only 36% of states in the PARCC consortium responded to the survey by the July 15 close. Smarter Balanced had similar results. Both consortia have released limited findings, but noted that memory capacity or screen size do not seem to be much of an issue.
Numbers of computers and bandwidth, on the other hand, seem to be the overwhelming issues.
While some states are well prepared for online testing, others are far behind. For example, Louisiana collected its own data and found that 197,898 devices are available for use, although only 67,038 meet the required guidelines. Only five districts in the state meet the device-readiness requirements, and only two districts meet both device- and network-readiness requirements. Other states echo these issues, and when considering technology purchases to rectify the issue, some worry that they are buying the right devices and that students will have sufficient time to learn how to be proficient with the devices before testing on them.
Two major concerns persist:
- How will districts make major technology purchases when budgets are tight?
- Will new and unfamiliar online assessments truly reflect student achievement, especially at a time when test scores are tied to teacher evaluations?
Stay tuned for more information as PARCC releases more about assessment policies over the course of the year.
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