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Drag and drop could provide a lift: Is your school ready for online assessments?

by Caitlin Sullivan

Are you wondering whether you should switch from paper/pencil to online interim assessments next year? Online assessments promise new opportunities for teachers to take instructional action from interim data.

Listen to what some students think of ANet’s technology-enhanced online assessments.

But ANet’s experience supporting schools through this transition demonstrates that taking time to assess and build readiness for online assessment can set students up for success. Here are four key questions to help clarify whether the time is right for online assessment to make instructional action and student learning even better in your building.  

Are the standards scheduled per online interim the right fit for your school’s scope and sequence?

As teachers and school leaders both know, assessments are only useful when they actually reflect the content teachers have taught. As you consider your online option, make sure you understand whether or not it will match your scope and sequence at least as well as your current assessments.

Are teachers in your school ready to use online data reports?

Data reports for online assessment will be familiar to schools that are accustomed to using data meeting reports on an online platform. For schools that have built habits around printed reports in Excel spreadsheets, teachers may benefit from additional time and training to transition to laptops for data analysis and instructional planning.

Are your students ready to tackle technology enhanced items (TEIs) and type their answers to open response items?

TEIs push students to demonstrate their learning and thinking in more rigorous and varied ways, such as dragging and dropping evidence from text to support conclusions. To make sure interim data reflects what students have actually mastered, it’ll be important that students feel comfortable showing what they know on an online platform. If you feel as if your students could benefit from time to build their skills, begin to plan for spring and early fall practice opportunities.

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Is your school’s technology infrastructure and administrative team ready to support online interims?

Schools that had the smoothest experience taking online interims in 2014-15 designated an on-site technical support person (usually a member of IT who is already up to speed on the building’s systems) to take the lead on preparing hardware, setting up browsers, and testing school network capacity. There is no substitute for on-the-ground preparation by an expert who can also provide real-time support to students and teachers during administration.

As you consider the advantages of online assessment, make sure you aren’t putting the cart before the horse. Keep the lessons of other schools that have navigated this decision in mind to ensure you support student learning as effectively as possible.

Caitlin is ANet’s director of program strategy.

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