Thursday, January 15, 2015

PARCC Testing and Barrington 220 Technology

PARCC assessment testing is coming to a school near you!

I thought I’d take a minute or two to provide a brief glimpse of the upcoming preparations for PARCC assessment testing as they relate to technology devices and network infrastructure here at Barrington 220. So how about a short FAQ?

Q. Can the PARCC assessment test be taken on the iPads, MacBook Air laptops, and PC laptops used within our district?  Will all of these devices work?
A. Yes. The PARCC test can be accessed on just about any computing device currently deployed to students within our district. The test is provided on Mac and PC computers via a web browser, using the computer’s Oracle JAVA program on the "back end."  For iPads, "there's an app for that," as the saying goes!

Q. Are these PARCC tests located on our Barrington 220 network servers or are they Internet-based?
A.  PARCC tests are Internet-based and are provided and hosted by Pearson PLC.  Pearson has provided tools to “cache” some of the test content (graphics and other large files) locally onto Barrington 220 servers, which should greatly reduce the Internet traffic during testing. 

Q.  Have we reviewed our Barrington 220 network capabilities at Barrington 220 as they relate to PARCC testing?
A. Yes! Pearson provided a PARCC Technology Readiness Tool (PARCC TRT) that determined our device and network capabilities for PARCC testing. We scored high on this assessment, and more recently we have completed an ISBE-based PARCC readiness tool called "I-TRAx".  This tool delved even deeper into our technology, and once completed, we found that we scored highest ratings possible.

Q. The high school and middle schools, with their “One to World” student computing device deployments have a high-capacity wireless access point in each classroom. This is not the case in the elementary schools. Will computer-based PARCC testing still work in the elementary schools? 
A. Yes. Staff members from our technology department recently met with each elementary school principal to discuss testing schedules and testing locations within each building. Where necessary, extra wireless access points are being deployed to specific building locations to provide additional wireless capabilities.

Q. Will there be a “techie” at each building while PARCC testing is taking place.
A. Absolutely. We have more school buildings than we do Technicians, but combined with our Technology Support Assistants, we have committed to having a technology department staff member on-site during testing at each building. These staff members will be trained in the basics of PARCC test administration and they all have a great knowledge of supporting our computing systems here within our district.

PARCC testing concerns are major here in Barrington 220, and no doubt, concerns are just as large in other Illinois districts. Rightfully so! The test is brand new, not only to our district, but nationwide. In addition, for testing on this scale and magnitude, many logistical challenges must be overcome, not only on the technology side - in which I dabble - but also in just about every other area of education here at Barrington 220. In this article I have just offered a glimpse of our PARRC readiness from a technology point of view. As the actual testing window for PARCC approaches, you will no doubt see a steady rise in information and training coming your way.

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