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States Anticipate Technology Challenges With Common Tests

Most states that have adopted the common standards anticipate significant challenges in shifting to a computer-based assessment system designed for those standards, a new study tells us.

A survey released today by the Center on Education Policy shows that 20 states anticipate a "major challenge" rounding up enough computers so all students can take the new tests, which are expected to be fully operational in 2014-15. Another four states said they expected getting enough computers to be a "minor challenge," and nine others said they didn't anticipate a problem, or that it was too soon to tell.

States also cited adequate Internet access and bandwidth as a potential problem with the common assessments. Fifteen called it a major challenge; 10 called it a minor challenge. Eight said it wouldn't be a problem or that it was too soon to tell.

States are also worried about not having access to state-, district- or school-level expertise to help with technological problems as the tests are being given. Fourteen called this a major challenge.

The two consortia of states working on tests for the common standards are jointly designing a "technology needs assessment tool" that will help states and districts gauge their readiness for the common assessments, which are scheduled to be fully operational in 2014-15. The self-assessment should be available for use in March.

In the new survey, the CEP researchers asked states whether their decision to adopt the common standards "might change" in 2011-12. Three states answered yes. The study did not identify which states participated in the survey.

The Center on Education Policy survey also includes updated information from its survey last year on the steps states are taking to implement common standards. States overwhelmingly reported that they were creating long-term implementation plans, adopting and implementing new assessments, and revising or creating curriculum materials. (Last year's CEP study of states is here, and my story about it is here.)

In the new CEP state update, many also reported that they are aligning the content of teacher-preparation programs to align with the common standards, and that they are modifying teacher-evaluation or -induction programs to reflect those new expectations.

Fewer states reported aligning undergraduate admissions requirements or college curricula with the common core.

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia responded to the CEP study, but since two of the states had not adopted the standards and one had adopted only in English/language arts, the report from the study focuses only on the responses of 35 states.

Regular readers of Curriculum Matters might recall that the CEP also studied district-level implementation of the common standards last fall, and found a pretty mixed bag. Their study is here, and my story about it is here.

Those of you who like to track states' progress in transitioning to the common core might also want to read about a recent study that the EPE Research Center and Education First did on that topic. See here for my story.

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