The 2014-15 school year promises to be a major watershed for education in the U.S. with more than 40 states set to implement their online testing programs, requiring changes to instruction and possibly different devices and more bandwidth.
The new programs will focus on a variety of rigorous standards, including problem solving and higher-order thinking skills, and be based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The assessments – being created by two consortia of states, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – will use multiple-choice questions as well as simulations, computer-based items, short answers and a lot of writing.
One of the major attractions of the new system is that teachers will be able to influence instruction for individual students as test results will be delivered almost immediately online. The devices used to implement the new system – whether they are desktops, laptops, tablets – will have to meet certain specifications, which virtually all devices today already adhere to. However, these devices must be able to be locked down in order to disable features, functionalities and applications that could present a security risk during test administration. The good news is that both consortia are already in touch with manufacturers of devices, who in turn are aiming to have solutions in place by the 2014-15 school year.
There’s still a lot to be ironed out before the new standards are up and running, and many of these difficulties will concern human issues rather than technology problems. How can students express their feelings about real-world problems? Will teachers be ready to deal with higher-order thinking skills tested by the CCSS? There’s work to be done for educators, and 2014 isn’t that far away in the greater scheme of things.
For more on the CCSS, check out our new series by Stacy Zeiger – she offers up tons of free or cheap tech resources that can help teachers meet the Common Core Standards!
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