As states and districts prepare for new online assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards, successful implementation will depend on effective use of technology: Schools must have the technology they need to administer the tests and ensure that students and teachers are provided ample opportunity to practice demonstrating mastery of the academic knowledge, skills and abilities via that same technology in advance of test administration.
Many schools and districts already are thinking about how to meet the technology requirements for the new tests. But rather than focusing solely on the assessments, schools and districts should use this opportunity to evaluate their overall technology needs, including technology for instruction, learning, and the day-to-day operations of the school. This comprehensive look will help schools and districts make the best use of their resources to meet their immediate needs — and allow them to plan for the future.
The new State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) website — The Guide to Technology Requirements — is a vital tool for helping districts and schools understand the detailed requirements for the assessments now and in the future. Just as important, it provides guidance to help districts think about these requirements in the overall context of school technology needs.
The Guide to Technology Requirements includes:
- The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
- The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced)
- Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment Consortia Assessment System
- English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21)
- National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) assessment
- Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (WIDA)
Note: states may administer additional online tests in other subject areas. Technology requirements for those assessments are not included on the website at this time.
Districts need to prepare now for the new technology requirements — and for ways the technology requirements will change over time. The new assessments will be administered in most states beginning in 2014–15 (PARCC and Smarter Balanced). Tests for students with significant cognitive disabilities also will be administered for the first time in 2014–15 (DLM Alternate Assessment) and 2015–16 (NCSC assessment). Likewise, tests for English language learner students will be administered for the first time in 2015–16 (WIDA ASSETS) and in 2016–17 (ELPA21).
Over time, the consortia’s minimum technology requirements will change as manufacturers phase out support for different operating systems. The website will provide accurate, up-to-date information about current technology requirements in one place. For districts that have questions about what devices they can use for the different tests, the website provides one consolidated resource and allows districts to filter out information that is not relevant to them.
Although most districts are aware that their state will administer the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessments, many are unaware that the state will also administer separate assessments for some English language learner and special education students. The website shows which tests the state will administer and includes technology requirements for these assessments to help districts develop a comprehensive plan. The website provides guidance to help districts think about technology needs as a whole, not just for assessments, and to plan for long-term sustainability. For instance:
- Schools use educational technology to meet a variety of needs beyond the assessments, including teaching and learning, professional development, and school operations.
- Schools also need to ensure that the devices students use to take the tests are the same ones they use in the classroom so that performance on the test reflects a student’s mastery of the standards, not a lack of familiarity with the technology.
- To support student learning, teachers need professional development on how to integrate the technology students will use to take the test into their instruction.
- As the number and variety of computing devices on campus grows, schools need to develop a plan to manage infrastructure and include technology costs as an ongoing line item in annual budgets.
Access the Guide to Technology Requirements at http://gtr.setda.org.
Visit the newly enhanced SETDA website at http://setda.org