Posted by Susan Sison on Mar 23, 2016 6:42:00 AM
Overall public school enrollment is increasing at a time when the number of new teachers holds steady or declines in many states. Instructional technology is the key to ensuring vital education resources are disseminated among the young people who need them even as class sizes grow. Adding to the pressure, curricula are transforming to address changing needs, thus demanding fresh ideas from both educators and administrators.
With all these forces in play at the same time, it might seem there’s no single solution that school districts can pursue to fulfill their educational mandate. But all may not be as it seems: Online testing is the spearhead of a variety of structural changes in school districts across the United States. These changes are bringing technology into the classroom in new ways and integrating those technologies more deeply than ever.
Online Testing Takes the Classroom by Storm
Since the introduction of No Child Left Behind in 2001, school districts have found themselves at the center of contentious and intensive testing regimes. Fifteen years later, approaches are shifting: Slowly, a new focus on judging students holistically is challenging the received wisdom of hyper-focus on individual learning outcomes.
One sign of this shift is the move toward online testing. Online testing allows teachers and administrators to substantially streamline the testing process, conveying a number of benefits that simply are not possible with conventional testing schemes:
Speed and Efficiency in Grading
Some standardized tests are so complex that grading them requires an ongoing partnership with a third-party organization that upholds strict compliance standards. In addition to complicating and slowing the evaluation process, this siphons funds away from core educational goals. Online testing accelerates the process and eliminates hours of manual work.
Adaptive Testing for Focused Outcomes
Adaptive testing provides two advantages: First and foremost is the ability to focus on strengths and improvement areas for individual students, challenging them to achieve more. Second, the right approach to adaptive testing can provide crucial intelligence on how learning instruments can be refined to meet the needs of the entire testing community.
Easier and More Enlightening Evaluation
At a time when schools are searching for – and sifting through – more and more performance data, it makes sense to foster a culture that emphasizes automation over tedious manual efforts. Online testing allows school districts to capture important information about student challenges and outcomes as it is generated, facilitating deeper analysis.
Online Testing is Important, but Only One Part of a Big Change
Online testing is the vanguard of an emerging movement in education that seeks to modernize the classroom experience, providing full access to the powerful learning tools and multimedia of the Internet in an environment that is stimulating and motivational for young people.
To achieve those goals, it’s necessary to look at the introduction of secure, high-performance Internet connectivity as a key goal for the next phase of schools’ evolution. In today’s fast-moving technology environment, only wireless connectivity provides for all the goals of a high-speed, fully connected learning environment that will engage learners of all age groups.
Federal programs such as E-RATE can place the latest instructional technology within reach of even those schools and districts facing the greatest needs. To leverage those assets into new heights of educational attainment, however, leaders within the learning community must have a clear vision about how they can deliver the greatest net gain for their students.
Want to learn more about online testing, campus wireless, and all the astonishing innovations they make possible?
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