From the Editor
Speak Up Results and More CC Assessment News
Anne Wujcik — Friday, April 27, 2012
I just want to point you to some news of interest this week. Project Tomorrow held its first Congressional Briefing on results from the Speak Up 2011 survey. This session focused on findings related to students and parents. The related report, "Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey - K-12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning" is now available on the Project Tomorrow website. This first report focuses on how today's students are personalizing their own learning, and how their parents are supporting this effort. That personalization centers around three student desires: including how students seek out resources that are digitally-rich, untethered and socially-based. The report share the unfiltered views of K-12 students and parents on these key trends and documents their aspirations for fully leveraging the technologies supporting these trends to transform their learning lives. There's also a summary infographic.
On May 23rd, Project Tomorrow will hold a second briefing to present the Speak Up 2011 National Findings for K-12 Teachers, Librarians and Administrators. The report should be available shortly after at the Project Tomorrow website.
Speak Up findings are always interesting and while the focus of the various annual surveys shifts from topic to topic, baseline information allows for tracking changes in practice and attitudes over the years.
The Race to the Top assessment consortium have issued preliminary guidance to help schools maximize the effect of their annual computer purchases. Schools and districts have been anxiously looking for some type of guidance so that their ongoing technology purchases build a base of equipment that will be useful once the Common Core assessments come online in the 2014-15 school year. Schools that select computer systems that meet or exceed the new guidelines can be confident that those systems will work with the assessments. I am sure many schools were relieved to learn that tablets (iPad, Windows, and Android) and netbooks (Windows, Mac, Chrome, Linux) will be acceptable for online assessment in 2014-2015, provided the specific device models meet the hardware and other requirements described in the Technology Guidelines, including the identified security considerations. It is possible that tablets will require the use of an external keyboard, or other input devices to be determined by research studies during piloting and field testing.
The consortia will address support for legacy operating systems and older computer systems already in place in the schools in Version 2.0 of the Guidelines. The Consortia will base these minimum specs on the data received from the Technology Readiness Tool. The first data collection for the survey closes in mid-June 2012.
Specifications for bandwidth, security, input device requirements, and other factors will be released in future versions of the Guidelines.
In more Consortium news, Education Week reports that PARCC has designed to drop its earlier announced plans to develop model instructional units for the CCSS. You may remember that the original announcement stirred a lot of concern, raising fears about a national curriculum, though PARCC always argued that it would only develop units or small sections of a possible curriculum. Now, noting that many states were already developing instructional units, PARCC has decided to focus its efforts on developing professional development modules aimed at supporting educators as they create or adapt materials for their CCSS curricular units. PARCC also announced that it would be updating its model content frameworks. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced plans to create a bank of formative assessment exemplars. This is welcome news, since many teachers don't have a full understanding of formative assessment. SBAC hopes that its exemplars will help illustrate that formative assessment is not an event but a process designed to elicit student feedback in many forms and help teachers adjust their instruction.