Preparing for the New Computer-based Testing
Vermont Agency of Education and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Two of the important factors in preparing for the implementation of the new SBAC assessments are meeting the technical requirements and ensuring that students have a sufficient comfortable level in learning with technology that the technology itself is not a factor in the assessment
There are a number of technical requirements that need to be met to provide sufficient support to administer the SBAC test. For the past 2 years FNWSU has been inventorying student accessible computers, collecting data regarding processors, memory, operating systems and screen size. This INFOGRAPHIC from Smarter Balanced provides a good summary of those requirements.
All student technology purchases from the same time period on are chosen to meet these requirements. FNWSU schools have a variety of devices, from 11.5 inch MS Windows 7 laptops, to Windows 7 desktops with flat screen monitors, to iMac computers and Ubuntu laptops. There are also some older Toshiba netbooks purchased before the new assessments were created, which while still serviceable, do not meet the requirements because of their small screen size. Sufficient numbers of qualified devices exist at each school to administer the SBAC tests well within the allotted testing window.
Other technical requirements which need to be met have been and are being addressed as well. Each school has a high speed internet connection, and several schools expect to upgrade those before the 2014-15 school year. Each school has a robust wireless network to provide connectivity to student laptops used for testing. Each school has or will have sufficient technical support in place for the actual testing events.
Student Tech Readiness
FNWSU is now implementing one to one computing at 3 schools and is planning for implementations at the other 2 as well. One to one is probably the best way to ensure that students have the best day to day exposure to using technology for learning. The more students do in school on their computers the more comfortable they become doing it. When the computer-based assessments come, students will naturally take them in stride as part of the way they learn.
The new assessments will contain questions and problems in which student need to be familiar with manipulating tools on their computer screens, drawing lines and moving objects to specific areas to provide the correct response. These skills will best come from sufficient access to technology and a variety of screen based activities. The assessments will also include reading on-screen and writing short and long responses as their answers. Digital literacy, reading and interpreting enhanced and linked texts becomes more important, as does keyboarding to allow timely input of answers in the writing sections of the test.
FNWSU feels that it has and is addressing the technical and logistic requirements fro SBAC implementation, but will continue to plan and improve our testing environments for the Spring 2015 testing window.