Tips for making the move to online assessments

As PARCC and SBAC collaborate to build an online, interactive school technology readiness tool to support technology transitions and implementation, they will work to evaluate states’ and schools’ current technology infrastructure and their readiness to implement a system of online assessments. The tool also will support technology planning and implementation.

A roadmap to 2014

“Over 90 percent of statewide tests today are still given in a manner that would be recognizable by a student from 40 years ago,” said Bryan Bleil, vice president of Online and Technology Implementation, Assessment, and Information with Pearson.

Bleil is working with Pearson customers as they move from paper-based statewide assessments to computer-based testing, and he said the promise of next-generation assessments is their “ability to leverage technology for a richer assessment of a student’s understanding and knowledge on a topic.”

Online assessments also offer alternatives for students with special needs and can be turned around quicker than traditional assessments, which are mailed to scoring centers.

Pearson’s Roadmap to 2014 outlines five key steps in a successful transition to online assessments:

  • Conduct a needs analysis.
  • Develop a realistic transition strategy and plan: Ideally, districts will implement a multi-year transition and not attempt to flip a switch and convert all schools at once, Bleil said.
  • Ensure interoperability: Strong engagement between the assessment community and technology community is especially critical.
  • Communicate proactively: Assessment personnel, technology personnel, and administrators should communicate openly and often for the smoothest transition.
  • Anticipate ongoing change: “States need to expect that as they move off of paper and pencil, they’re moving onto a platform that is itself always changing,” Bleil said.


Laura Ascione

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