An elearning pro shares how to prioritize to make the transition to online assessments smoother
As with anything in life, certain tradeoffs must happen in order for schools to spread already-thin resources across all critical projects. Schools already face this challenge on a daily basis, and now they must become Common Core assessment-ready at a time when resources are especially tight.
“In the end, there have to be some projects and/or expenses that receive lower priority within the district,” says Thomas Ryan, Ph.D., CEO at eLearn Institute, Inc., a nonprofit that helps districts prepare online learning strategies. “At this point, any prioritization that takes place really has to be based on district-wide, long-term decisions.”
Transitioning to a data-driven system
In looking at the digital education shift as a whole, Ryan says some schools are “holding onto the old way of doing things” even as they realize that the shift to online assessments is going to have to happen. “Trying to support a paper-based instructional model and a digital-based model is just too expensive,” says Ryan. “Unless there’s a stream of new funding coming in, schools really need to start putting [digital] transition plans in place.”
To finance such efforts, many districts are reducing traditional (non-digital) expenses to fund online assessment initiatives. For example, Ryan says some school districts are cutting back on copier use and paper expenses, and he points to flip charts, paper clips, pens, and pencils as potential savings areas.
“These items eat up a huge portion of a school’s supply budget,” says Ryan. “When you can divert those funds to tools that will do a better job, you start to save money.”
In helping eACADEMY Virtual High School (a part of Albuquerque Public Schools in New Mexico) make the transition to digital texts and online content, for example, Ryan says the institution was able to shift costs away from printed book costs; the storage, distribution, collection and replacement of books; and staff members such as textbook clerks.
(Next page: how to share the burden across departments)