States to launch ‘IT readiness’ tool for common assessments

“Navigating any type of educational change is a complicated process, and the move to online assessments brings with it great opportunities and unique challenges,” said Laura Slover, senior vice president at Achieve, which is the project management partner for PARCC. “Both test consortia are focused on providing the tools and resources to remove any potential roadblocks for states as they move through the transition process.”

Besides developing the Technology Readiness Tool, Pearson has released a Roadmap to 2014 that outlines key steps in a successful transition to online assessments, such as conducting a needs analysis, developing a realistic transition plan, ensuring interoperability, and communicating proactively.

The assessments

The SBAC assessment is a computer-adaptive set of technologies that advocates say will allow for increased precision. As a student takes the assessment, the test engine will constantly upload new questions based on the student’s answers—if the student answers a question incorrectly, the computer would generate a different question than if the student answered the previous question incorrectly.

The aim of the Technology Readiness Tool is to “understand what exists in your schools today,” said Susan Gendron, policy coordinator for SBAC. This includes educational technology resources such as operating systems, bandwidth, staffing, infrastructure, and other requirements for tablets, laptops, and PCs.

See also:

Tips for making the move to online assessments

Report tracks states’ progress toward Common Core standards

Pilot and field tests of the SBAC assessment will help researchers improve the technology used to support it. A more comprehensive test will include more and more component integration, and the full system will be thoroughly quality-controlled in advance of the 2014-15 timeframe, Gendron said.

The PARCC assessment design includes two required summative components that come closer to the end of the school year. Those will provide data for accountability purposes and will measure the full range of standards and performance. The design also includes two interim optional assessments.

The system will be field-tested “in earnest” in the spring of 2013, Slover said.

The goal of the collaboration will be “to identify where states are in their infrastructures, and what the gaps are to help them chart a path forward,” she said.

PARCC also is creating Educator Leader Cadres, which are cadres of K-16 educators across all PARCC member states. Participating educators will receive deep training on the Common Core state standards and intensive training on PARCC’s assessment system. The cadres will launch this summer, with a goal of helping each state increase its capacity to deliver professional development, communications, and engagement around PARCC assessments and the Common Core state standards. Those educators will, in turn, build expertise throughout their states.

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