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Top ed-tech stories to watch: Online testing looms

No. 1 on our list of key ed-tech stories for the new school year is the struggle for schools to prepare for Common Core testing

online-testing

Preparing for the exams involves much more than making sure schools have the bandwidth and devices to support every student online.

[Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year.]

Next spring, new state exams tied to the Common Core standards in reading and math will be given for the first time in more than 40 states—and there are big questions about whether schools and students will be ready.

Students will be taking the exams online, and a lack of technology or training in some schools—especially those in rural areas—could make administering the new tests a challenge.

“We could be in trouble,” Donald Childs, administrator of the Unified School District of Antigo, in north central Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We haven’t had an opportunity to test rural schools that just got wireless access to see if there is adequate bandwidth to administer the exams during the state testing window.”

Childs isn’t alone in his anxiety. A national survey of school technology leaders earlier this year found that preparing for online high-stakes tests was their No. 1 concern, said Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional ed-tech organization.

CoSN has created a toolkit to help ed-tech leaders prepare for online testing, and many school districts have been testing their network capacity in anticipation of the exams. But there’s a difference between conducting a trial run and the real thing, Krueger acknowledged.

“Everyone’s kind of waiting to see how it goes, and if they’re really ready,” he said.

Preparing for the exams involves much more than making sure schools have the bandwidth and devices to support every student online.

(Next page: Other considerations in becoming ‘assessment ready’)

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