Online assessments are becoming more common, and students who have strong digital literacy skills often score higher on them. Students who lack these skills may not be able to effectively demonstrate mastery of key concepts in math, reading, or writing on online assessments. Technology and digital literacy specialists at Flagstaff Unified School District (USD) in Arizona reviewed the importance of teaching digital literacy skills and how their district is doing so in “Improving Student Performance on Online Assessments.”
Although digital literacy had been a conversation within Flagstaff USD for some time, there were varying degrees with which teachers at different schools addressed the skills. Still, the application of the skills to demonstrate knowledge was a clear need with the use of online assessments. The district came to a consensus on the definition of digital literacy skills, what kinds of common core standards included them, and how they were already being taught. School and district leadership involvement was a critical factor in developing an effective district-wide approach moving forward.
Online assessments offer advantages over paper-and-pencil tests, such as faster student feedback, improved accessibility features, and the ability to better assess student knowledge. The tasks students are asked to perform help teachers better understand where they need to shift their instructional practice. Some key skills for online-assessment success include word processing and keyboarding, highlighting, graph understanding, research skills, and using subject-specific tools.