Will districts be tech ready to administer the nation’s new assessments?
The Race to the Top Assessment program is ambitious and has the potential to help make far-reaching changes not only in how students are assessed, but also in how teachers teach and students learn. One important feature shared by both the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment systems is that student assessments will be technology-driven. About two-thirds of states currently deliver one or more state tests via technology.
For many schools and districts, however, the shift to computer-based assessment for the majority of students will be new. There are compelling advantages to technology-based assessment systems, when compared to current paper-and-pencil approaches. Chief among these advantages is the ability to capture more robust data about student knowledge, skills, and abilities across the full range of content standards through interactive items that can be reliably scored for a low cost. Technology-based assessment can also ensure that results are made available to educators and students in time to intervene and adjust instruction for students who are having difficulty. Additionally, technology-based assessments can be a marked improvement over paper-based tests for ensuring security of both test items and student responses. Indeed, if the aim is to implement better tests with higher college-and career-ready standards, it is sound policy to accelerate the trend toward technology-based assessments.
Yet, in the absence of direct federal support for the technology needs of districts and schools for the nation’s new assessments, the following important questions arise:
- Can school technology investments in etextbooks and digital learning be leveraged for assessment?
- Will this shift disadvantage students who do not have access to technology outside of school?
- Will schools be able to accommodate both instructional and assessment needs for technology?
- Most significantly, will schools be ‘technology-ready’ to administer next generation assessments?
These questions — and particularly the last — cannot be answered with a simple yes or no for a number of reasons. First, the nation lacks comprehensive, actionable data on school technology access (this is an issue that the PARCC Consortia are helping to address). Second, even without high-quality data, it is clear there are vast differences among school districts across the country in terms of how they have deployed technology in the past and how they are implementing improvements as an engine of school reform.
The ability of the nation’s schools to administer the next generation of assessments hangs in the balance.
Read the entire article by Doug Levin and Geoff Fletcher on Tech & Learning at http://www.techlearning.com/features/0039/ccss-assessments-are-you-ready/54638#sthash.2nAnxhZa.dpufImage Credits: http://www.techlearning.com/features/0039/ccss-assessments-are-you-ready/54638#sthash.2nAnxhZa.dpuf