The Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and Testing Device Requirements are useful to determine technical readiness for the SBAC. I am not certain whether the framework was considered during the pilot last year or whether site administrators are aware of it. In terms of my own district, most school sites waited for instructions from the district. These instructions were rolled out at the last minute, resulting in many issues. This was particularly the case with the iPads. Our site followed the instructions we were given and were able to install the AIR Secure Test App and lock the App for the test. However, we were unable to unlock the App. As a result, all of the iPads used for the SBAC pilot had to be reimaged. This took a lot of time and prevented the devices from being used for instruction.
Given the importance of the SBAC and some of the issues SCPA experienced last year during the pilot, using a framework such as the one provided by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is important. I can only hope that site administrators consider such standards important. Often times, decisions are made without understanding the importance of the technology piece. Using the framework will definitely help school sites plan for and be better prepared technologically for the SBAC.
The preliminary research I conducted I hope with help troubleshoot and prevent technical issues during the online SBAC testing scheduled for May 2015. It definitely helped in terms of planning and what the next steps might be for SCPA in preparing for the SBAC. I sent a copy of my report to my site administrators and to our IT director.
Overall, it was comforting to know that SCPA meets the technical readiness requirements and standards for the upcoming SBAC event in terms of operating systems and devices. This was initially a concern at the beginning of the school year when there were delays with the Lenovo Yoga 11e tablets being deployed. Without the Lenovo’s, SCPA may have been short devices that met SBAC technical requirements. A key discovery for me in this process was realizing the importance of having an updated inventory of devices, and operating systems the devices are running, as well as potential maintenance concerns. When I first presented the SBAC technical readiness framework to our IT director and asked about getting an inventory of devices, he mentioned this was going to take a lot of research and work to put together. Although he was able to quickly printout a spreadsheet of the number of and type of devices assigned to each classroom, it was unclear whether all devices were running the most recent operating systems. With the newer devices it was obvious, but with the iPad 2s, some were still running iOS 7, others were running iOS 8.1.1, and a few teachers had updated to the iOS 8.2 even though they were told not to do so. It was also difficult to get an exact count of keyboards and headphones. Also, when I mentioned concerns about the AIR Secure Test App and whether there might be issues this year, I was told it is supposed to work. I’m curious if anyone has tested it out? This is one of the reasons I included this in my recommendations. Another key discovery for me was the networks ability to meet the current number of users. I do not think site administrators consider this to be important or to be a potential issue, or that the recommended number might exist for a reason. I hope this is something the site coordinator takes into consideration when planning for this year’s exam. Our site IT director and I work well together, so I know he will take the recommendations seriously.
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: The Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and Testing Requirements. August 1, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Tech_Framework_Device_Requirements_11-1-13.pdf