Testing On Devices Ensures Inequity
Last week's article by Benjamin Herold which highlighted the fact that the type of device a student utilizes for Common Core testing will have an impact on the final results is something that we all need to think long and hard about. Herold's article cited this study from the Spring 2015 PARCC assessment which was published back in February and showed "14 percent of all students who took the 2014-15 PARCC exams performed significantly worse when taking the exams on tablets."
Unfortunately, even with the additional research completed by the Council of Chief State School Officers last month with their Score Comparability across Computerized Assessment Delivery Devices, there is still a lot of work to be done in regard to state assessments being conducted online. It is hard to believe that we are allowing students tests to count given the discrepancy in results across various devices. Scott Norton of the Council of Chief State School Officers notes the following in Herold's article in regards to what is needed: "They're going to have to conduct in-depth analyses of their results in the coming years."
In the meantime, where does this leave schools when it comes to decisions about technology purchasing?
The correct answer is that school leaders should buy the devices that they would have chosen if state testing did not exist. We need to ensure that the tools that we purchase for staff and students are those that best support the work/learning that is pursued for the entire school year and not just a few days of state testing. Decision-makers at the state level need to guarantee equity in testing across devices or pull the plug entirely. The selection of a tool to tackle a state test should be as easy as selecting a No. 2 pencil.
In a day and age where the public perception of teachers, schools, and school districts is tied more closely than ever to the results of state tests we cannot afford unknown variables contributing to the final judgment.