SPECIAL REPORT: Computers, the future of standardized testing

By: Gina Esposito Email
By: Gina Esposito Email

School Districts in Colorado will soon be moving to a new standardized testing system done online called "PARCC" that will replace the current handwritten TCAP test. "PARCC" will be given to grades 3 to 11 and will start the 2014-2015 school year.

Tayler Griffith is a 2nd grader at Fruitvale Elementary. In class, she is already learning how to type a handwritten sentence onto the computer. She said, "I like writing and the computers... I just like them.. I don't know why."

Next year, typing on a computer won't just be a classroom activity, it will be part of a new standardized test online called "PARCC". Griffith said, "I feel like it would be easy."

Griffith's teacher, Devonne Grams said she's trying to prepare her students now. "I have four computers in my room and I'm lucky. I'm one of the lucky teachers, some teachers only have one," said Grams.

Grams said while testing her student's knowledge online is good, accessibility to the proper resources may be a problem. Especially, for students like Griffith who don't have access to a computer at home. "The amount of opportunities that they are going to need to be able to do that, proficiently. I just don't know if we have that capability yet," said Grams.

Grams also said, "I'm concerned that some of them may know more than they are able to produce for the assessment because of some typing or technical capabilities they don't have."

Executive Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Leigh Grasso, said District 51 is finding ways to make the transition smoother for everyone. She said, "We are making sure that have the right technology in our buildings. Not just the right technology, but the right amount of technology. All of us are working on professional development plans to make sure that we are supporting teachers and their learning and understanding."

Grasso said teachers have already been comparing sample "PARCC" questions to TCAP's. She said "PARCC" will be the first test to be in line with standards the Colorado Department of Education adopted in 2010.

When students take the test, they will be giving a specific code which they will use to log-on to the computer. This way, students won't be able to take the test just anywhere and at anytime. The test will ask students to drag objects, highlight text and type in an online box. Students will take the test twice a school year. Grasso said, "The Performance part of the assessment is done about three quarters of the way through the year and the Summative assessment is done at the end of the school year.

Grasso also said "PARCC" should give quicker results. This will allow teachers to have more time to target learning so students will be more prepared for the future. Grasso said, "Kids leaving our school and really having the right skills to be college and career ready."

Colorado is one of 18th other states, plus the District of Columbia, that will be using "PARCC".
For more information, visit: http://www.parcconline.org/


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