Choosing the Right Partners for Online Assessment Success
As schools and districts nationwide prepare their students and teachers for the 2014 mandated PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments, they need to give serious thought to which educational technology vendors are best suited to help them achieve online assessment success. The choices districts make now could seriously affect student preparedness for the fall of 2014. The following considerations should be part of any rubric a district creates when evaluating vendors to partner with:
- Does the vendor offer item types that PARCC and Smarter Balanced have made public on their websites (i.e. drag and drop, multiple choice/selected-response, hot spot, short answer, extended, or constructed response)?
- Are the items offered correlated to Common Core standards?
- Are adaptability features available within the vendor assessment prep program(s) (i.e. ability to highlight questions, text-to-speech, font size variability, and paper-pencil options)?
- Will the program simulate PARCC and Smarter Balanced formatting and test lengths and variability (still TBD since several of these parameters have not yet been released publicly by PARCC and Smarter Balanced)?
- Are software engagement and interaction levels high enough to keep students interested?
- Does the program provide flexibility in creating and assigning practice assessments so schools and districts can meet the needs of its unique student population?
- Will parallel tests be available for schools and districts to benchmark their students throughout the school year as they prepare for the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments?
- Will reports be broad and specific enough to meet teacher and administrator needs (i.e. reporting down to the Common Core indicator per topic, analysis by student, class, and school)?
- Will automatic learning paths be assigned to each student based on the weakness they show during their practice assessments (at, above, and below grade-level when necessary)?
- Does the vendor offer ongoing virtual and onsite professional development?
- Does the vendor offer both content and practice assessments?
- Are the interoperability standards of the vendor the most applicable and conducive to your schools technological capabilities and expectations?
- Does the vendor offer a K-12 solution? Do they offer assessments and adjoining content/curriculum in all subject areas required?
- Does the vendor offer 3rd party research, case studies, and testimonials that can help schools and districts evaluate the effectiveness of their assessments and correlating curriculum?
- Are communication tools available for students and teachers outside the traditional brick and mortar setting?
- Is there a majority or consensus of teacher and school administrator support for the chosen vendor?
Make sure to consider these questions when determining what rubric should be instituted. Considering these questions ahead of time will make you vendor selection process more efficient and successful.