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.

Intended to launch March 20, the tool was developed using open source technology. Data will be collected from states twice annually through 2014 to provide updated information about their technology and infrastructure readiness, and this information will be shared with state education stakeholders. Data will be compared against minimum and recommended requirements, and the application will support progress tracking.

See also:

Tips for making the move to online assessments

Report tracks states’ progress toward Common Core standards

The new tool, with backing from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to determine any technology and infrastructure upgrades that might be necessary to prepare for the new online assessments, which are expected to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year.

Already, some education leaders have expressed concerns about the educational technology infrastructure that will be necessary to deliver the tests online.

Both consortia are working with their member states to develop next-generation online assessments that align with the new Common Core State Standards and accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness. Use of the tool will allow schools to capture and report key readiness indicators, including the number and type of computers they have, their network and bandwidth infrastructure, staffing, and other resources.

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