By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor

Next Big Thing?
Sometimes it is difficult to take the next "big" thing in education seriously. Initiatives seem to come and go and quite often districts take the wait-and-see approach before making changes and investments. However, when it comes to the Common Core State Standards all but a small handful of states have already adopted and begun implementation. Many consortia and task forces have been formed to collaborate and support one another with the implementation. So where is the hook into technology? A couple different areas. Technology is embedded into the standards themselves and the assessment side of the house, which is what I would like to share a little bit about.

What is PARCC?
PARCC is a consortium made up of 22 states, serving roughly 24 million students. The consortium is funded by a grant provided by the US Department of Education and its task is to develop and design a next-generation assessment system which the common core standards will be tested.

PARCC Vision
PARCC states have committed to building a K-12 assessment system that:

  • Builds a pathway to college and career readiness for all students,
  • Creates high-quality assessments that measure the full range of the Common Core State Standards,
  • Supports educators in the classroom,
  • Makes better use of technology in assessments, and
  • Advances accountability at all levels.

Listen up, Techies!
The PARCC assessment will be delivered online and the consortium has been busy working on technology guidelines. For those districts that have robust Internet connections and the ability to refresh their computers every three years, the guidelines will probably not cause you alarm. However, most districts don't have this luxury and have been very creative over the years with extending the life of their hardware. Another detail to be aware of is you may squeak by with the minimum requirement specifications for the 2014-2015 assessment, but that will most likely not be compatible for the 2015-2016 version, according to the guidelines.

Still Time
There are still many unanswered questions concerning the timeline, funding sources and some who think the assessment will never become a reality. It is also likely the guidelines will have a few revisions before they are in their final version. Whatever your opinion on the PARCC assessment, this is a good opportunity to take a closer look at networks and devices, and reflect on the experience we are providing our students and teachers.

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.