About This Project

During the 2014-15 school year approximately 40 states will use new online student assessments from PARCC and Smarter Balanced that will be based on the deeper and more rigorous Common Core State Standards.  The new tests will be substantially different from those currently in use.  They will contain computer-based items, require significant writing, include simulations, and test higher-order thinking skills in new ways.  Implementing these new assessments successfully will require both a substantial infrastructure and a human capacity effort involving careful planning and ample communication.

By June 2011, 33 states were already administering major assessments online according to the SETDA study Technology Requirements for Large-Scale Computer-Based and Online Assessment: Current Status and Issues. Some states are just getting started with online assessment, while others have tested online for over a decade.  Some moved the old multiple choice paper-and-pencil tests online, while others completely redesigned the concept and culture of assessment.  All viewed technology as an instructional opportunity as well as a testing modality.

The shift from print to digital in instruction and assessments has raised concerns about how prepared districts will be to implement these assessments in 2014-2015.  One way that SETDA is helping is by providing cases studies that chronicle the substantial experience four states have had implementing online assessments– Delaware, Idaho, North Carolina and Virginia.  Each case includes a narrative that is supported by downloadable resources.

Each narrative describes the state’s history with online assessments, the evolution of their infrastructure, their approach to training and communication with districts, and an in-depth look at what it took a district to implement the assessments.

The downloadable resources supplement the narrative and range from training agendas to checklists for technology readiness to sample letters from the state to school districts.

The primary sources for the cases were SETDA members and their colleagues who participated in 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?

SETDA hopes you will use and share these materials to support your online assessment goals.

About the Connected Educators Project

Implementing Online Assessments: 4 Pathways to Success is part of a larger effort by SETDA to help states and districts prepare for the 2014-15 online assessments of the Common Core State Standards.  Under a subcontract with A.I.R. through the U.S. Department of Education, SETDA created assess4ed.net, an online community of practice focused on assisting states and districts as they prepare to implement online assessments.  The community has over 1600 members with a number of active, smaller affinity groups focusing on more specific issues.  For example, the State Readiness Coordinator group consists of the people charged with preparing their state for the 2014-15 online assessments. Information from the Technology Readiness Tool is posted frequently and members hold active discussion threads on topics that arise as they prepare their state and districts for the implementation of online assessments.   The Technology Readiness Tool was created by Pearson under a contract with PARCC and Smarter Balanced to help states and districts determine the extent to which they are ready for the online assessments.  A public group focused on the Technology Readiness Tool has nearly 900 members.  A few states such as New Hampshire and Colorado have groups discussing similar topics within their states.  For further information, please visit www.assess4ed.net.