The Cincinnati Enquirer has a report on how Ohio schools are not going to be ready for the new online PARCC tests that are scheduled to be deployed next year.
“With all the reductions in education funds over the last several years and the downturn in the economy, districts have struggled to be able to bring their (computer technology) up to the level that would be needed for this,” said Barbara Shaner, associate executive director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
Districts could seek state permission to deliver the new tests on paper if they can’t round up enough computers, tablets and gadgets to go around, Jim Wright, director of curriculum and assessment for the Ohio Department of Education, said. A student taking a paper test could be at a disadvantage, though. While the paper tests won’t have substantially different questions, a student taking the test online will have the benefit of audio and visual prompts as well as online tasks that show their work on computer, said Chad Colby, a spokesman for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
The state really does need to step up and help districts fund this costly mandate that has been foisted upon them. Added to this, the computer industry is going through significant changes as more and more people move away from the traditional desktops and laptops in favor of the simpler more portable tablets. School districts could find themselves having to make costly investments again in the near future if they pick the wrong technologies.
The article makes note of the possibility of paper based test takers being at a possible disadvantage over those taking the computer based tests. There has been a significant amount of research over the years on this, and the results seem to indicate the opposite effect - that computer based test takers score lower than paper based tests.
A number of studies have suggested that no mode differences can be expected when individual test items can be presented within a single screen (Poggio, Glassnapp, Yang, & Poggio, 2005; Hetter, Segall & Bloxom, 1997; Bergstrom, 1992; Spray, Ackerman, Reckase, & Carlson, 1989). However, when items are associated with text that requires scrolling, such as is typically the case with reading tests, studies have indicated lower performance for students testing online (O’Malley, 2005; Pommerich, 2004; Bridgeman, Lennon, & Jackenthal, 2003; Choi & Tinkler, 2002; Bergstrom, 1992)