What you should know before moving ahead with online assessment

Even in today’s tech-heavy environment, before moving to online assessments, leadership needs to ask: Should we? According to Glenn Robbins, superintendent of Tabernacle Township (NJ) School District, and Dr. Donna Wright, director of schools, Wilson County (TN) Schools, too often the focus is on why everyone else is doing it or the idea that everything needs to be done on a computer. During their presentation, “Online Assessment: An Evolving Landscape and New Opportunities,” they discussed the lessons they learned when they made the transition and what they would change if they could.

Getting started with online assessments

First, Robbins proposed several key questions leaders should ask before even considering online assessments.

  • What is the experience we’re trying to create?
  • What is our curriculum?
  • Where are we going with the curriculum?
  • What are we using for assessment right now, why are we using it, and how could it improve?

In other words, leaders need to frame the potential value of online assessments before they discuss technology in the larger context of the curriculum. Wright added that leaders also need to think about how online assessments can impact a school’s culture and change teaching and learning. Most important, the new assessments must fit into the district’s strategic plan—both the overall goals for the school and the financial commitments.…Read More

6 reasons it’s important to create your own online assessments

Homegrown online assessments prove invaluable to one district

online-assessmentsAssessments are critical to our efforts to improve instruction in K-12 education. Yet, in an age when students are accessing a vast array of resources on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, some school districts are still hesitant to take their assessments online.

At Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD), we began the transition to online assessment more than three years ago. Across the district, our teachers have created a number of online assessments—individually and through their work in professional learning communities—for use in our district. Since then, we’ve found that online assessments offer several distinct advantages over paper-and-pencil assessments.

1. Online assessment saves teachers’ time.…Read More

The best tips for getting your school ready for Common Core assessments

An elearning pro shares how to prioritize to make the transition to online assessments smoother

common core assessmentsAs 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.”…Read More

Being assessment ready–now

How are administrators preparing for online assessment capacity?

assessment-readyAsk a school district technology leader what is his or her top priority this year, and you’re likely to hear the response: “Getting ready for the new high stakes, technology-based assessments.” That is the most common answer from CoSN’s 2014 IT Leadership Survey.

What is happening that pushed this priority atop chief technology officers’ (CTOs) “to-do” list?

The short answer: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other online assessments are fast approaching in most states.…Read More

3 approaches to online assessments

With the approach of online assessments, three districts are tackling the challenge

online-assessmentsOnline assessments are a key part of the Common Core State Standards, but these new assessments don’t come without obstacles. Adequate high-speed internet access, infrastructure, computers, funding, and manpower are just a few of states’ top concerns when it comes to properly implementing and administering online assessments in the next year.

Here’s a look at how three different states or districts are approaching online assessments. And while each approach is different, school leaders often share the same concerns.

Many schools don’t have the technology needed to give New Mexico’s new online standardized assessment scheduled for statewide adoption next year. School districts still have a year to prepare, but technology departments must hustle to make sure their schools have the computers, internet routers, and bandwidth necessary to comply with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exam, which replaces the statewide paper-and-pencil test.…Read More

New online assessments to include accommodations for students with disabilities

The public review period allows for feedback from a wide group of stakeholders.

One of the two state consortia developing next-generation assessments to be taken online is seeking comments on a draft policy that proposes accommodations for students with disabilities who need help expressing themselves in writing or typing on a computer.

The proposal comes from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a 22-state effort to develop new online assessments in English and math, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, that will test a full range of student performance on skills necessary for college or career readiness.

The draft policy recommends two writing access accommodations—specifically, a scribe and word prediction software—on the English language arts (ELA)/literacy summative assessment for students with disabilities who meet the accommodation eligibility criteria.…Read More

States to launch ‘IT readiness’ tool for common assessments

A new tool will test states’ IT readiness as online assessments are implemented.

As two state consortia work to create next-generation common assessments to help make testing more meaningful for students and teachers, a new tool will launch later this month to help states determine how ready their schools are to support a system of online assessments.

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new “Technology Readiness Tool” to support states as they transition to the next-generation assessments, which are based on the Common Core state standards.

SBAC and PARCC both received grants from the federal Race to the Top program to work with states to create next-generation, comprehensive testing systems. The development of the Technology Readiness Tool is one component of their initiatives to establish infrastructure and content for delivering common assessments online.…Read More

Tips for making the move to online assessments

Online assessments will provide a more detailed look at student ability, stakeholders say.

As states move toward implementing online assessments in 2014, a panel of experts agreed that school technology leaders must ensure that districts have the capacity, manpower, and foresight to see that the transition is a successful one.

Online assessments present a handful of concerns for school technology leaders, said Ray Eernisse, chief information officer for Missouri’s Francis Howell School District, and Daniel Honore, director of information services for Wisconsin’s Kenosha Unified School District.

Eernisse and Honore were part of a Jan. 17 Consortium for School Networking webinar panel that addressed how preparing for these assessments can help set the school technology agenda and make network development a top priority for the future of teaching and learning.…Read More