Technology means assessments can focus on more than just multiple-choice. Can testing keep up?
When we imagine the future of assessment it’s easy to envision all sorts of impressive ways to help gauge what students know and what they can do. Gaming and simulations, especially, create all kinds of possibilities.
But the major focus of assessment technology in recent years, of course, has been on efficiency of test delivery and administration—with little true innovation making it to students’ test booklets or computer screens.…Read More
Homegrown online assessments prove invaluable to one district
Assessments 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.
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
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.”…Read More
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of two assessment consortia developing next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards, has released a manual detailing how students with disabilities and English language learners will be accommodated in the computer-based assessment.
Diane August, member of the PARCC Technical Working Group, said that by assessing on computer devices, PARCC states will now have the opportunity to provide student with tools they frequently use in the classroom and daily life. “Many features that were once considered accommodations are now available for all students through the online delivery platform and the commitment to universal design principles,” said August.
The majority of the proposed accommodations policies are currently in use across PARCC states. What is different from many current state accommodations manuals, however, is that the manual includes not only proposed participation and accommodations policies for students with disabilities and English learners, but also information about tools that will be provided through PARCC’s computer-based assessment delivery system for all students.…Read More
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
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sept. 2 announced the recipients of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide new state assessment systems to test students’ 21st-century skills. The announcement comes as part of the recent push from the federal Education Department (ED) for higher-performing schools and common standards.
Two large state coalitions won this “Race to the Top” competition to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system: the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) from Washington state and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) from Florida. (See “States collaborate on new national exams.”)
SBAC, which submitted an application on behalf of a group of 31 states, received $160 million. It will focus on formative assessments and the use of technology for testing to measure student growth over time through computer adaptive testing. It will continue to use one test at the end of the year for accountability purposes but will create a series of interim tests to inform students, parents, and teachers about whether students are on track.…Read More