In preparation for field testing the assessments, each district focused on technology readiness, teacher and staff assessment readiness, student readiness, and scheduling. State education officials said field testing the assessments and ensuring consistent and frequent communication helped prepare the state for its transition to online assessments.
Rural settings present challenges for many ed-tech essentials, such as reliable and high-speed internet access, and Idaho‘s rural location prompted state education officials to invest in the necessary hardware and infrastructure to connect districts to much-needed resources. The Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) in 2003 marked the state’s first move to online assessments. Some of the state’s districts still lack all the technical or human capital needed to move fully to online testing, however, and the state is focusing on ways to boost infrastructure and human capacity to support online assessments. As the state progresses to 100 percent of schools using online assessments, state education leaders are making sure to involve educators in the process, focus on pedagogy instead of devices, build capacity with professional development, and project a unified message and goals.
North Carolina launched its NCTest, an online assessment delivery platform, in 2005 and is expanding in order to offer all high-stakes, and many non-high stakes assessments, online under the new TestNav platform, which state officials expect to be operational in 2014-2015. North Carolina used state funds to connect all public schools to the internet, and school tech officials began ensuring that schools’ infrastructure could support more devices, and wireless connections. The state developed a guide to help districts and charter schools transition to online assessments, and transitions are continuing.
Virginia has administered online assessments, in different forms, for nearly 12 years, and nearly all of the state’s assessments were delivered online during the 2012-2013 school year. The state created a robust infrastructure that is supported by approximately $30 million every year. The state plans to release a case study this fall, detailing its approach to online assessments.