- Transitioning curriculum and instruction
- Balancing new assessment systems within a state
“Form follows function” is not just for architecture, it also applies to instruction and assessment. In the way that classroom technology will be transitioning to reflect the assessment technology from SBAC and PARCC. In the way that state’s online assessments will contain not just technology enhanced items, but tools like calculators, graphing utilities, and the accommodations that will soon be available to the general student population. The challenge facing students, educators, and assessment professionals is that the tools that are presented for student use on assessments need to be the tools students learn with and practice with in their classrooms every day. Doing otherwise could invalidate those very assessments.
“Accommodations” might soon become anachronistic as more become available to the general population. Such things as braille printers for individual work stations, speech-to-text for students with written language or fine motor difficulties colored overlays and backgrounds, text-to-speech converters, , and sign language avatars will become commonplace. Testing platforms will include tools that enable graphing and manipulating linear and quadratic algebraic functions, solving systems of equalities and inequalities; displaying data in circle graphs or histograms; exploring models with scientific and graphing calculators, rulers, and protractors; the list goes on.
One of our challenges is the variety of platforms and tools students will face between different assessments and the need to be able to present them with different fronts. Another challenge is getting teachers the training they need to feel comfortable with the tools and use them effectively as teaching aids and in formative assessment. Students see these tools as games, while teachers tend not to. And still another challenge is cost and accessibility, including – beyond the obvious – access to technology which should be inclusive of various devices, e.g., PCs and tablets, and class and building bandwidth. Assessment companies that can work with curriculum companies, whether they own their own or not, other assessment companies, and IT/computer companies can provide states and districts a real service by addressing these needs.