Let's Talk Assessments
Peter Drescher is the Education Technology Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education, and has been since 2008. His current role is centered on policy development and opportunities for building technology access for schools. Peter previously worked with Vermont Institutes as a consultant to the field around the use of technology in the classroom. He believes strongly in a world where technology can deliver a variety of learning tools to allow all of our students to succeed. Peter also serves as the Board Chair for the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) at the national level.
I thought I might talk briefly here about some of the things we saw as schools moved through the 2014 Smarter Balanced (SBAC) Field Test process, and also put to rest a couple of myths that seem to be holding on in terms of what is in compliance with regard technology and SBAC.
First of all, a huge shout out to all of those folks that simply got to work to make this happen at their schools. There were a number of roles that were involved in this endeavor, from administrators to technical staff to the teachers and even the cafeteria staff that helped in many cases to provide snack breaks for the students during their test windows. All of the people involved jumped in, rolled up their sleeves, took on some steep learning, and delivered an environment that allowed all of us, including the students, to see what online assessment is going to entail. This being a Field Test meant that we were testing the test. We all learned a lot. Here are a few of the take-aways that I either observed or heard discussed at a very informative panel discussion we held at Dynamic Landscapes earlier in May:
- Administrators: Start talking this up! With teachers, students, parents, and School Board members. Practice with the available practice tests with all of the aforementioned audiences. Letting everyone see what kind of test this is will be beneficial in the long run.
- Teachers: Start reviewing the documentation available from the Field Test and look over the documents that the 27 Field Test schools may share. The word on the street was that many of the documents available could be gleaned down to three or four pages total for really understanding how to proctor these assessments. Skim the relevant stuff in the documentation, but also be looking for resources from the AOE that try to glean down some of the lengthy documentation.
- Prepare your students. Practice tests, working on the internet, showing them how to use drop downs, double and triple clicking, navigating pages, scrolling on various devices, all of these skills were useful in completing the test. Students should be using these skills daily anyways, but practice, practice, practice!
Now, time for myth busting. iPads work and so do Chromebooks. If you are planning on purchasing them, continue to move in that direction. Remember, we don’t want digital learning to only be about taking the test! Think about those tools as being learning tools that your students will have to support their day to day learning in a variety of ways. iPads are “required” by SBAC to use an external keyboard, so be sure that is available to your students. It helps with screen real estate.
Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014