White paper: Large-scale, online testing requirements

New common core academic standards being implemented by the vast majority of states will require new tests that will be delivered via technology by the start of the 2014-15 school year. As dozens of states have already experienced, the shift to technology-based assessment yields many benefits. Yet, it also raises important issues, including whether today’s classroom technology is up to the task, teacher professional development needs, and how new technologies used for teaching and learning can best be leveraged for academic gains and cost savings.

At the request of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released a draft of a white paper, Technology Requirements for Large-Scale Computer-Based and Online Assessment: Current Status and Issues, for public review and comment online at Assess4ed.net. The paper provides a snapshot of the current technology requirements for select states implementing large-scale, online summative assessments, including minimum specifications relating to hardware, browsers and software, and bandwidth and connectivity. It also identifies a number of technology-related issues for states and the consortia to consider as the shift from print to digital in assessment and other areas of K-12 education accelerates.

Assess4ed.net is a new online community of practice designed to assist state and district leaders preparing to administer online and computer-based student assessments by the 2014–15 school year. Assess4ed.net will support communication and collaboration between the private and public sectors, and within states, districts, and schools. Goals and activities will include:· Ensuring state and district readiness for 2014 assessments;

· Improving instruction to ensure college and career readiness; and

· Identifying cost efficiencies and potential savings.Assess4ed.net is part of Connected Online Communities of Practice, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education under contract with the American Institutes for Research in partnership with five organizations, including SETDA.

“As states and districts begin to make purchasing decisions for technology that will still be in classrooms when the next generation assessments emerge, this paper provides baseline information as well as a first step in considering key issues surrounding large-scale online assessment,” said Douglas Levin, executive director of SETDA. “We will continue to foster discussion of online assessment in assess4ed.net and our members stand ready to work with their colleagues at both the state and district levels to ensure a smooth and effective implementation of technology-based assessment.”