The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) released their technology requirements last week. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) released theirs earlier this month. Both are noticeably quiet on the costs.
Here are the five recommendations made by SBAC:
- Move away from Windows XP (which is currently used by more than half of schools today) to Windows 7.
- Upgrade computers to at least 1 GB of internal memory.
- Make sure that all screens being used for the assessments have a visual display of no less than 9.5-inches, with at least a 1024 x 768 resolution.
- Make sure the student testing site operates on secure browsers.
- The assessment requires about 5-10 Kbps of bandwidth per student.
EdWeek reported last week on the PARCC requirements:
The new PARCC guidelines are “very similar” to the Smarter Balanced requirements, said Susan Van Gundy, associate director for assessment technology at Achieve, an organization that is managing the partnership consortium’s work.
One of the requirements focuses on test security. All devices used during the tests—whether laptops, netbooks, tablets—and operating systems must have the capability to “lock down” and temporarily disable features that present a security risk while exams are being given. Certain features would also need to be controlled during test administration, including unlimited Internet access, certain types of cameras, screen captures, e-mail, and instant-messaging, the requirements say.
Some of the PARCC requirements are still to come. Minimum bandwidth requirements won’t be determined until next year, according to PARCC. But the group is setting the recommended bandwidth for external connections to the Internet at 100 kilobits per second, per student or faster, and the minimum for internal school networks at least at 1000 kilobits per second, per student.
Desktop and laptop computers, netbooks, thin clients are among the allowable testing devices. Smartphones will not be allowed for 2014-15, because they do not meet the minimum 9.5-inch screen size, Van Gundy said. Tablets that meet the standards will be allowed. (Smarter Balanced has also said a 9.5-inch screen should be the standard.)
Standards for operating systems vary. The minimum standards for Windows, for instance, is Windows XP/Service Pack 3, though looking ahead, Windows 7 or newer is recommended.
Now it would be great if we’d see some information on how much the technology will costs schools who may not meet the minimum requirements.