What can states and districts do to prepare for the transition to online assessment?

Change is always happening. Transition to online student assessment constitutes a substantial change affecting everyone. Largely a change management process (review Fullan). Conceptually, the new assessments come along with a more complex curriculum too. They also come with infrastructure requirements and capacity building needs that involve lots of planning and communication. Particularly as all states share the common pressure of having to prepare for the moving target of new online assessments by 2014, at a very fast pace.

Like any change process, states are in various phases of moving from paper and pencil to online assessments. Some are just getting started, while others have tested online for over a decade. Some online tests are mandatory, while others can choose/volunteer to test online.

The strand of work featured here highlights four states’ efforts to make the transition by collating resources developed to support the shift.

Some moved the old tests online, while others completely redesigned the concept and culture of assessment. All looked at technology as an instructional opportunity as well as a testing modality. Instead of testing schools of students, now testing classes of students (and not students individually).

The primary data collection took place through telephone interviews and document review during the Spring of 2013. Discussions sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is the history, future, and timeline of online assessment?
  • How has the infrastructure evolved to support online testing?
  • What have been the key levers in this change process?
  • How have stakeholders’ needs for clarity and comfort been met during the transition?
  • What is currently tested online, when, and how?
  • What has been successful and challenging so far?
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This section highlights certain resources.

Last modified: January 13, 2014