News

Online assessments a challenge for states rethinking Common Core

By Bridget McCrea
November 17th, 2014

School districts in states undecided on Common Core remain focused but nimble as spring 2015 assessment deadline looms

assessment-commonReceiving a mandate to support Common Core assessments can be challenging enough for a district IT team, but what happens when your state is yo-yo’ing on Common Core and debating whether it will continue to embrace the standards or implement its own approach? That’s precisely what Sheryl Abshire, CTO at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, La., is grappling with right now.

The Common Core argument in Louisiana is highly charged and political in nature, but in a nutshell, the state’s commitment to adopting the new standards has been challenged on several fronts. For example, originally backed by Louisiana’s governor and state superintendent, a PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing contract was recently cancelled and an overall feeling that Common Core was “not right for the state” began to prevail, says Abshire.

“That came as somewhat of a shock for practitioners, both in terms of the technology and the curriculum itself,” says Abshire, who has been in public education for more than 40 years. Over the last few years, she and other K-12 IT experts have put a lot of time and energy into prepping their schools for Common Core assessments. In 2013, for example, many parishes field-tested the PARCC assessment and examined key points such as bandwidth capacity (e.g., will certain applications need to be shut down to free up bandwidth for the testing?), desktop computer availability, and potential demand/usage by students.

(Next page: Ready, but nimble)