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Common Core Online Tests to Pose Tech. Challenge for Rural Schools

The Common Core State Standards eventually will require students to take standardized tests online, and that will pose a problem for many schools, especially those in rural areas.

Why? Rural schools often lack the technology and broadband capabilities of their counterparts in more populated areas.

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states, and two groups of states—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium— are developing tests.

Both groups say they are committed to helping states transition to computer testing, and they have developed a Technology Readiness Tool to help states identify infrastructure gaps and plan for future needs.

Still, some rural schools have a long way to go to get ready. Union Local School District in rural Belmont, Ohio, is one example of those. The district has about 100 computers that can handle the new tests, and about 1,000 students who will need to be tested, according to a recent piece by StateImpact Ohio, which is a collaboration among Ohio public radio stations WCPN, WKSU, and WOSU, and NPR. What's more, the district has cut 17 percent out of its $12 million budget during the past few years, so buying new computers is out of the question, the story states.

Many rural school leaders across the country also worry about high-speed internet connection. For instance, Union Local just received a technology upgrade, but officials are concerned they still don't have enough bandwith for the testing, according to the story.

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