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How schools can prepare for CCSS assessments

CCSS-7-5For many states, the rapid approach of the 2013-14 school year not only means full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, but also the reality that they will soon need to be prepared to administer the tests that come with these new academic guidelines. CCSS-aligned assessments from two consortiums of states are currently in development, and both are slated for full implementation during the 2014-15 school year.

As with any new assessment, school districts will need to carve out a sufficient amount of time to allow teachers to prepare and instruct those teachers on best-practices for administering the new assessments. Because both tests will be given online, there are also certain preparations that school districts need to make to ensure they have the necessary infrastructure in place.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
SMARTER has developed computer-adaptive testing. Similar to adaptive learning programs, the SMARTER assessment will adjust the difficulty of the questions in real-time based upon students’ answers. Many school districts may already have computers that will support the administration of these assessments, however, others will need to make upgrades. To administer SMARTER’s Common Core State Standards-aligned assessments, school districts will need computer screens 10-inches or larger, headphones and an effective cyber security system. The software is compatible with a number of operating systems, including Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.4.4. It may also be used on a variety of mobile devices, like Windows- or Android-based tablets and Chromebooks. School districts will want to run tests prior to 2014-15 to ensure that they have sufficient bandwidth and Wi-Fi capabilities to support online testing on a mass scale.

Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
PARCC has also developed an online assessment, which means that school districts within states that are members of this consortium will need to have sufficient technology to effectively administer the tests. At a minimum, bandwidth should be 100 kilobites per second per student or faster, and every computer must be able to connect to the Internet. The PARCC assessment is compatible with four operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Chrome OS. Although the consortium has outlined minimum requirements, it recommends that school districts invest in the latest technology to be sure that testing goes smoothly. Students taking PARCC assessments will need screens that are 9.5 inches or larger, as well as headphones and microphones.

White Paper Was this blog helpful? Learn more about how to transition to the Common Core in our white paper, An Elementary School Principal’s Guide.