Tech Disruption in Education: How has standardized testing been affected by technology?

Technology in our children’s classroom is expanding every day as a recognizable force, and teachers and staff are very aware of its usefulness and potential destructive consequences.

There are so many ways to which technology is being used, I am focusing now on the impact with standardized testing.

testState testing has started its migration away from pencil and paper to online testing.  Although in some respect this can be done quite effectively but mostly districts are finding it difficult to assess testing vendors, ensure all the technology is in place and managed.  School districts are, for the most part, being pressured to save money with expenses and personnel and taking on a technology initiative such as this requires more investment in each before you can see any reductions that can be achieved once in place.

 

“Building a technology platform that is able to deliver the very high performance, scalability, and security profiles required for a state-wide, online administration is difficult and requires extensive software engineering skill.  It has been our experience that relatively few vendors in the industry have attained the level of engineering ability needed to do this successfully at the scale of a state. A solution that might work adequately in a district of 100,000 students will not necessarily work in a state with 1,000,000 students”  – Dr. Candice McQueen, Tennessee DOE Commissioner via EducativeDive, July 31, 2017, written by Shalina Chatlani

There are a number of considerations districts need to work through, such as, fitting large numbers of kids in a space to test on computers or devices on the same day without tossing away some of those other functional areas like gym, library and the cafeteria.  Is the data being stored in their onsite data center servers? or online?  What is the security required to ensure malicious or any unattended risk from occurring?  Does the district have the needed client based hardware conduct the testing? Would technology be seen as disenfranchising any kids?  Does this require time taken away from normal classroom agendas to training students on how to use the application?

Testing by its nature can be pretty stressful, and proponents of computerized testing often argue that digital platforms can streamline the process through benefits like fast student outcome data, interactive components, and personalized learning options. Doug Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, LLC, says that these benefits, among others, is part of the reason why the shift to online testing is happening and isn’t likely to go away. But he also says that such advantages can be sidelined by technical and operational issues, which many states have already faced. – Doug Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, LLC via EducativeDive, July 31, 2017, written by Shalina Chatlani

Our children take tests for everything, but the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—also called The Nation’s Report Card—is unique. The Nation’s Report Card is a resource—a national wakeup call—because it offers a window into the state of our education system and what our children are learning. The results provide educators, policymakers, elected officials, and parents across the country with invaluable information regarding how our children are doing compared to other children in participating large urban districts, other states, and the nation. When our children participate, they are helping to inform decisions about how to improve education in your state and in our country. The participation of your child can and often does lead to change. –National Center fr Education Statistics

Some of the data we’re producing are enabling teachers to do some experiments in their classroom, where they want to figure out how to engage students better, how to build stronger relationships with students and [greater] trust in the classroom. These are ultimately the kinds of data points that improve instruction and give educators information they didn’t already have, as opposed to standardized-test reports that will tell educators students are performing below a level of proficiency. An educator who spent 180 days in the classroom with that child probably knew that already. – Jack Schneider, Assistant Professor at The College of The Holy Cross, for EducationWeek, April 12, 2018  

So beyond the conversation of whether standardized testing is useful in the education of children, or whether it becomes too much of the focus in our classroom agendas – but with technology placing pressure by attempting to make the testing simpler and providing deeper results, what effect will it have in the classroom going forward?

I think we all agree the education of our children, our future, is very important.  I think we can all agree that teachers need to be educated and in a position that continually provide valuable education that easily and equally consumed by as many as possible.  I believe we can all agree that some type of gauge needs to be put in place to measure our success, problems each student is experiencing while on their education path.

So, If we are able to get the testing environment (space and hardware) right for test taking, ensure the questions are configured to drive accurate results on where that student stands in their education path, can we remove all but one standardized test per year? Isn’t that the real value technology can bring us all?  Allow teachers time and resources to artfully teach? Test annually to ensure the path is being followed and every child is progressing on that path?

What would that test look like? Can it be achieved?

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