Tips for making the move to online assessments

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
January 18th, 2012

Online assessments will provide a more detailed look at student ability, stakeholders say.

As states move toward implementing online assessments in 2014, a panel of experts agreed that school technology leaders must ensure that districts have the capacity, manpower, and foresight to see that the transition is a successful one.

Online assessments present a handful of concerns for school technology leaders, said Ray Eernisse, chief information officer for Missouri’s Francis Howell School District, and Daniel Honore, director of information services for Wisconsin’s Kenosha Unified School District.

Eernisse and Honore were part of a Jan. 17 Consortium for School Networking webinar panel that addressed how preparing for these assessments can help set the school technology agenda and make network development a top priority for the future of teaching and learning.

Hardware: “We can never have enough hardware, it seems,” said Eernisse. The configuration, age, and availability of hardware all play a role in the move to online assessments. Environmental concerns include whether the seating and lighting is comfortable for test-takers.

Software: School technology staff must ensure that devices are able to run testing software and that they have the latest version of necessary products. Additional licensing requirements might exist, along with the need to download plug-ins such as flash or java.

Network: “Bandwidth is probably the most prevalent” concern, said Honore. Testing facilities must have enough bandwidth in testing rooms and in the facilities overall. Students should have access to any and all resources they might need during testing, and security must be capable of handling confidential information.

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One Response to “Tips for making the move to online assessments”

March 20, 2012

assessment vendors must architect the technology in a way that an assessment can be given to a student on the different browsers, that the test starts only after the environment has been verified to ensure the entire test will run smoothly, to minimize bandwidth use by making fewer server calls during the testing session and to use fail-safe methods to save student responses to the server.

if you look at all the use of internet and other applicatons in schools such as email systems, SIS’s and other internal applications… me it appears that there is plenty of bandwidth and desktop horsepower to conduct a test efficiently.

vendors have to take the various factors of network and browser configurations into account just like so many other application vendor do. And also they need to perform peak load testing to confirm that students can login in quickly and move through test items without any delay. Also it is important to minimize or avoid use of plug-ins such as flash, adobe, java as far as possible. Use of Ajax and light weight code is always good. Heavy graphics need to be avoided as well.

pradeep sharma
director product development