The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced the release of two online tools Tuesday to help schools and districts prepare for the new generation of academic assessments created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).
The Assessment Administration Capacity Planning Tool is designed to help local policymakers and educators build the technology capacity they need to administer PARCC's computer-based assessments in 2014-2015. A guidance memo includes further details on projected testing times, testing windows and recommended hardware capacity.
"These documents are important because moving to a new generation of assessments does not mean we are taking traditional bubble tests and placing them on a computer screen," ODE said in a release.
Instead, PARCC will use technology to provide assessments that give teachers, schools, students and parents better insights into how well critical knowledge, skills and abilities essential for young people are being learned and mastered."
PARCC assessments are replacing the Ohio Achievement Assessments and the Ohio Graduation Test in two parts. The first is a performance-based assessment to be administered when 75 percent of the school year is completed, requiring students to apply their knowledge to write, solve complex problems and produce a product.
The second component is the end-of-year assessment, administered when 90 percent of instructional days are complete. It requires students to demonstrate knowledge and skills by responding to computer-scored questions. "We also are moving away from the concept of assessment as an isolated event in the spring," ODE said. "With more flexible scheduling than current paper-based tests, assessment will become more integrated into instruction."
Schools will have up to four weeks to administer the performance-based assessment and another four-week window to complete the end-of-year assessment. States, districts and schools may also choose to administer the tests in a shorter time span if they have sufficient capacity. Many are expected to do so, said ODE. Depending upon grade level, PARCC estimates that students will spend between 8 and 9.5 hours total on all of the assessment components.
ODE's director of curriculum and assessment, Jim Wright, addressed the rollout of PARCC tools in a press call. He was asked whether the state will be ready for computer-based assessments in 2014-15, when estimates of broadband access in Ohio continue to range between 60 percent and 100 percent. "That's a question a number of states are facing," Wright said, noting paper and pencil tests will continue to be available in the first year of PARCC. "We will be moving as many people as possible online, but we realize there will be pockets."
The planning tool and guidance memo may be found at http://education.ohio.gov/GD/Templates/Pages/ODE/ODEDetail.aspx?page=3&TopicRelationID=1696&ContentID=134869
Additional guidance and information will be provided by ODE and PARCC in the coming months as further assessment development and testing takes place. Questions may also be addressed to Acting Superintendent of Public Michael Sawyers at email@example.com.