June 27, 2012

Moving Assessments Online

As with so many other aspects of education, assessment is moving more and more online.

Assessment movements usually start in K-12 by mandates and sometimes trickle up to higher education later. In the 2014-15 academic year, more than forty states will implement their online testing programs. Thirty states already do their summative assessments online, but the new assessments will require more of the schools including changes in instruction, and possibly different tech devices and high-speed bandwidth.

These new assessments are being created by two major consortia of states, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). They are based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and will try to assess address higher-order thinking skills and problem solving.

As online assessments they will include the traditional multiple-choice questions but also simulations, computer-based items, short answers, and a lot of writing.

The objective is to cover all the standards, some of which are harder to measure, especially online. Part of the appeal of online testing is being able to obtain results quickly with the hope that teachers can use the results to affect instruction for classes and even specific students.

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