- With assessment increasingly going digital, the eLearn Institute's Online Assessment Planning Tool and a new report from CoSN aim to ease the burden of test creation for district administrators, eSchool News reports.
- The report looks at the impact on superintendents, principals, teachers and students, recommending nine best practices in planning online assessment that include the creation of a cross-functional strategic planning team, the embedding of technology in pedagogy, ensuring robust infrastructure is in place, and preparing for effective use of data gained from tests.
- According to eSchool News, the planning tool contains four parts: a self-reporting survey, strategy mapping, readiness level descriptions and planning worksheets.
As schools and districts seek to use data to better assess and target learning, online assessments will only become more prominent. But their rollout has already caused issues in recent years for some states.
In many cases, this all comes down to ensuring that necessary infrastructure upgrades are part of the plan for testing going in. You don't want to find out on the week of annual state-mandated exams, for example, that your school's broadband network can't handle the burden of a school full of students trying to complete tests at one time.
But schools and districts must also be sure they have a plan for how to effectively use the data gathered following tests. A report issued last year by the Data Quality Center detailed the struggle many schools face when it comes to how to effectively leverage data. Atlanta Public Schools, however, has set an example with its data visualization blog, an effort that visualizes and breaks down those numbers in plain language for the public. When parents are better informed about how digital testing and data analytics benefit their students, they too can make more informed decisions and have greater buy-in.
In addition to Atlanta, California has set a standard for making data more palatable with its Model Five-by-Five Placement Reports & Data. The new system is designed to present individual district performance across indicators on color grids, providing a link to individual school dashboard reports. This, the state hopes, will help low-performing schools in otherwise high-performing districts stand out instead of being buried in a simple district average, ensuring they're more likely to get the attention they need before it's too late.