The rollout of iPads in the elementary schools this year brought teaching and learning to a new level for teachers and students. With the world at their fingertips, students have the power to create, practice, teach each other, and learn together. Students and teachers alike are experimenting with new technology tools and enhancing their learning experiences. For many, integrating the iPad into everyday lessons has been a smooth and seamless process.
As always, testing plays a large role in the lives of elementary and middle school students and teachers. Testing season is upon us, and our technology support teams are gearing up for the busiest time of the year.
For the first time in Barrington 220, all students in Grades 3–8 will be taking PARCC test on their district-issued devices. Over the last several weeks the LTAs have been meeting with the assessment team for training and support for the upcoming tests. From lockdown applications to testing tickets, SIS uploads, and sandbox trials, Ben Ditkowsky and Marijana Jensen have been knowledgeable, patient, and helpful in leading us through the preparation. Preparing a building for PARCC testing requires significant behind-the-scenes work, and the leadership and expertise of the assessment team has been invaluable.
At the beginning of March, the LTAs hit the ground running with the Illinois Science Assessment (ISA), a battery of tests featuring required online testing. The online requirement is new this year, but with the ISA secure lockdown browser installed on the iPad and MacBook Air devices, testing was virtually painless for students in Grades 5 and 8, and all students enrolled in Biology courses at BHS. The ISA window for Barrington closed on March 17, 2017, and preliminary reports from the buildings indicate a seamless transition to online testing—a huge success!
The timeline for PARCC and MAP is particularly tight this year because the testing windows overlap.
The Barrington 220 window for MAP testing is open from April 5–19, 2017. All tests (including make-up tests) for students in Grades 2–8 must be completed during this timeframe. LTAs coordinate with the Assessment Department and TPACK teams to complete uploads of class rosters, push out testing applications or browsers, and provide training and directions for all test proctors. Working closely with the building principals and classroom teachers, the LTAs schedule and implement the test. On testing day, LTAs will be busy ensuring that the tests begin and finish on time, answering last-minute questions, troubleshooting, and lending support to teachers and students.
PARCC testing will begin on April 10, 2017, for students in Grades 6–8 and on April 17, 2017, for students in Grades 3–5. Both windows will close on April 28, 2017. The checklist for PARCC is long and detailed. The LTAs and Assessment Department must begin preparing and training well in advance to ensure that testing day is successful for all. The LTAs collaborate with the Assessment Department, the TPACK teams, building principals, and teachers to prepare, schedule, and implement testing in an organized and timely manner.
Since students will use their district-issued iPad devices, testing days should be far less chaotic than in years past. We will no longer need to move laptops from classroom to classroom or focus so much time and energy to ensure all devices are charged. The iPad devices are expected to weather the testing storm well. Teachers are advised to remind students to charge their devices the night before.
Together, the LTAs and I look forward to working together with all staff and students to experience a positive month of standardized testing.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can always connect with the LTA in your building, or contact me via email at email@example.com.