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 good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s online testing

How three different districts fared as they conducted PARCC testing for the first time

testing-parccWhen teachers, students, and administrators at Sheridan School District No. 2 met earlier this month to kick off The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing, they had felt pretty sure of themselves. After all, the Denver-based district of 1,600 students and five schools had worked hard to prep itself for the computer-based K–12 assessments in English language arts and math. “We spent a lot of time and money on preparation,” says Superintendent Michael Clough.

But it all fell apart pretty quickly.

Within just a few hours of the first test being administered, it became clear that the district wasn’t as ready as it thought it was. “The first day of testing can be described as nothing short of a disaster,” says Clough. “Now that the first round of testing is complete, we’ll have to start unpacking things and figure out exactly what went wrong.”…Read More

Top ed-tech stories to watch: Online testing looms

No. 1 on our list of key ed-tech stories for the new school year is the struggle for schools to prepare for Common Core testing

online-testing
Preparing for the exams involves much more than making sure schools have the bandwidth and devices to support every student online.

[Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year.]

Next spring, new state exams tied to the Common Core standards in reading and math will be given for the first time in more than 40 states—and there are big questions about whether schools and students will be ready.

Students will be taking the exams online, and a lack of technology or training in some schools—especially those in rural areas—could make administering the new tests a challenge.…Read More

Five key steps to upgrading your wireless network

Are you ready for the nation’s $3 billion wireless overhaul for education—or the move to online testing? Here’s what you need to know

wireless
70 percent of K-12 schools currently lack the wireless network performance to support online testing.

In early February, President Obama made a $3 billion commitment to improve internet access in the nation’s schools to meet the new technology standards required by Common Core online testing.

Approximately $2 billion of that funding is earmarked for an FCC imperative to provide high-speed broadband internet access to 15,000 schools. And private-sector companies—among them Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon—have pledged $1 billion in free and discounted products, connectivity, and professional development.

While this is no doubt cause for celebration, it marks the beginning of a very long road to fully realizing the benefits for education. This funding could cause a tremendous leap in the quality of education for U.S. children, helping them better compete in a world economy when they enter the workforce.  However, if not properly put into place, it could result in a debacle on par with the Healthcare.gov rollout—and a squandering of educational opportunities for the country’s students.…Read More

Ed-tech leaders brace for online testing

Having so many students taking online exams at the same time will cause a huge strain on school networks, ed-tech leaders fear.

What keeps ed-tech leaders up at night? Making sure their schools are prepared to roll out high-stakes testing to students online by the 2014-15 school year is a chief concern, said panelists during a March 11 session at the Consortium for School Networking’s 2013 national conference in San Diego.

Two multi-state consortia, the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are developing next-generation assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and students in more than 40 states will take the tests online beginning in 2014.

But having so many students taking online exams at the same time will cause a huge strain on school networks, ed-tech leaders fear.…Read More

SETDA issues guidance to help schools prepare for online testing

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released new guidance to help policy makers and district leaders determine their ed-tech needs and readiness for implementing the Common Core State Standards and the online testing that will accompany these.

As schools implement the new standards, two multi-state consortia—the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium—are developing next-generation assessment systems aligned with the Common Core. Schools in participating states can expect to administer these new tests beginning in the 2014-15 school year. One important feature shared by both the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment systems is that the tests will be technology-delivered.

At least 33 states currently administer one or more state tests online; however, for many schools and districts, the shift to computer-based assessment will be new.…Read More

With online testing on the horizon, infrastructure could be a challenge

Within a few years, school districts in most states will have to have enough computers to allow students to take multiple tests online throughout the school year.

With new online tests being designed to reflect the Common Core standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, school districts in these states will have to replace pencil-and-paper testing with the new online exams as soon as the 2014-15 school year. But school leaders are unsure how the computers and software needed for such a move will be funded.

Last year, the federal Education Department doled out more than $300 million in Race to the Top funding to two groups of states to create next-generation assessments tied to the Common Core standards.

One of these groups, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), includes 23 states and the District of Columbia. The other group, the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, includes 28 states. For now, Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina belong to both consortia—and Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia belong to neither.…Read More