How 4 states are gearing up for online assessments

Assessments will require adequate bandwidth, devices

online-assessmentsAs the 2014-2015 school year approaches, Common Core-adopting states are working to develop and implement the online assessments that go along with the new core standards. Along with implementation come concerns about whether schools have enough bandwidth, sufficient infrastructure, and enough devices to support students as they migrate to online assessments.

Two assessment consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, are developing the assessments aligned to the more rigorous standards. A State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) report examines four states’ experiences with implementing online assessments in advance of the deadline.

The SETDA report notes that during the 2014-2015 school year, roughly 40 states will use the online assessments from PARCC and Smarter Balanced, and ensuring that these assessments are ready for use will require not only an infrastructure evaluation and possible overhaul, but much human effort as well.

Four states–Delaware, Idaho, North Carolina, and Virginia–are profiled in the SETDA assessments report. The report examines each state’s previous experiences with online assessments, a timeline and milestones along the way, and future steps to ensure the online assessments’ success.

Delaware implemented online assessments in 2010 with the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS), which uses summative and formative assessments under “broad testing windows.” Each school in the state has internet access and every district uses a statewide student accounting system, which made it easy to implement DCAS. The system launched fully during the 2010-2011 school year. Students use laptops or computers with a secure testing browser. The state uses an annual school technology survey to confirm that schools had enough computers to conduct a field test of the assessments. State education leaders then focused on including stakeholders in the plans. Once the state had stakeholder buy-in, all groups worked to confirm that the assessments were supported by adequate technology and hardware.

(Next page: Three more states move to online assessments)

Laura Ascione

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