Archive for October, 2013

On-line is the New Trend

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Open eyes wide! Prepare yourself! In your hands is on-line  America. On-line college coursework seems to be working. Twitter, texting, Facebook—you name it—no glitches there. Except the Affordable Care Act which is a good thing for the nation’s health. But setting up extensive on-line applications for the uninsured on a website for 36 states was bound to start with glitch after glitch.

Now think about what will happen when new tests that reflect the Common Core State Standards are built to be implemented on-line for 45 states.

Where do you teach in California? Up-scale Silicon Valley? Poverty stricken Fresno community? Diverse Los Angeles? Suburb of San Diego? Ranch town near Mt. Shasta? It’s true that California schools have been reassured they will see an increase in funds collected by the state but sent to each district to use as the administration sees fit.  Is that true where you live? Not if you teach in Kansas this year.

To implement the yearly exams that some schools in Kentucky and New York have already tried out, think of the technology in place in your school and how to find the money to upgrade that equipment. Pearson, the huge educational company picked by PARCC, and Smarter Balanced, a consortium of western state schools, are developing and revising exams as this article is being written.

Neither website provides information for teachers uneasy about the electronic equipment, internet access, strategies for administering the test, or professional development to learn the techniques for analyzing the resulting data.

Luckily in California, one can say that the state Department of Education has refused to back down on its request to the federal Department of Education to put aside testing for 2014, used since No Child Left Behind was legislated, in an effort to prepare for new on-line assessments scheduled to begin in 2015 and being devised by Smarter Balanced right now.

If you are a teacher who has used on-line assessment for math or reading, you will say that the ability to assess and analyze data is valuable. However, correcting the glitches that can occur when trying to log in 30 students at the same time, much less a whole fifth grade or an entire tenth grade for a math assessment can exhaust an Information Technologist (IT).

Which immediately brings to mind the need to spend time and money to overhaul the public school’s technology hardware as well as software. Neither California, nor any of the other 45 states wishing to give public school students the opportunity to prepare for the future, wants to suffer the confusion resulting from the difficulties setting up an on-line assessment system for an entire state.

After glitch-free on-line testing begins, the purposes for assessment must then be resolved. Be assured, that continuing controversy will take everyone’s attention.