07 Apr Chromebooks and PARCC Assessments
As schools consider their options for 1:1 technology programs, the new PARCC assessments help to eliminate the Chromebook’s competition.
In an effort to overhaul educational standards, school districts across the country are bringing 1:1 technology to students as early as kindergarten. The Common Core State Standards are one reason for the widespread reform, pushing educators to ramp up standardized testing and improve math and language arts proficiency at all grade levels. With the same urgency in mind, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers has developed a controversial Web-based test designed to stimulate analytical skills and critical thinking.
As of 2015, the PARCC assessment is taking effect in twelve states and the District of Columbia, where it will be administered to students in grades three to 11. Schools adopting the PARCC standards are allowed to use paper assessments for a limited time, but the ultimate goal is to prepare participating states to conduct all testing by computer.
How Does the Chromebook Benefit PARCC Schools?
Switching to a digital standardized test overlaps with existing Chromebook initiatives, but even administrators from districts without 1:1 technology have acquired Chromebook sets specifically for PARCC assessments. One major benefit is an innate feature that allows educators to activate test mode, which limits functionality to prevent students from browsing the Web, connecting USB devices or taking screenshots of the test.
Unsurprisingly, budgeting is an overwhelming factor for cash-strapped schools. The tests cost just under $30 per subject for each student. Chromebooks offer a cheaper alternative to laptops and iPads, the latter of which would require purchasing attachable keyboards for thousands of students.
Chromebooks Offer Stress-Free Management
Sean McMahon, the Network Security Manager for Boston Public School District, also attested to the Chromebook’s ease of use in single-kiosk mode. When using a test app, administrators are able to activate tests on any number of devices at once from a central system. Google also designed a public-session mode for non-app-based Web exams, making it easy to log in individual test-takers, restrict device functions and instantly wipe test data after completion.
Proponents of Chromebooks say the testing configuration process is fast enough to require minimal preparation from tech teams on assessment day. PARCC also provides an online SystemCheck tool that automatically analyzes the device for tech-readiness, making the Web-based Google Chrome OS an ideal fit.
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