Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
PARCC Technology Readiness Tool
|To:||Superintendents, District Technology Directors, Principals, and Directors of Charter Schools, Approved Private Special Education Schools, Educational Collaboratives, Institutional Programs, and Alternative Adult/External Diploma Programs|
|From:||Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.|
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
|Date:||March 14, 2012|
Massachusetts is a member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of two multi-state consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education to develop the next generation of student assessments. PARCC is developing these assessments to be delivered online, enabling innovative items that are able to capture aspects of student performance beyond the reach of even the best current paper-and-pencil assessments. Online assessments, however, will challenge the technology infrastructure capacity of many school districts in PARCC member states. This is true for Massachusetts as well, and many of you have raised this concern with me and my staff. I am, therefore, pleased to announce that PARCC, in collaboration with the other multi-state assessment consortium, has contracted with Pearson to develop a "Technology Readiness Tool." This tool will help member states, districts and schools assess their current level of readiness and plan for the transition to next-generation assessments.
This assessment of your schools' technology infrastructure is essential to helping the Department understand the existing capacity as well as gaps in capacity to administer PARCC and other assessments online. In addition, the Technology Readiness Tool is a key step toward assessing state, district, and school readiness for a host of other digital initiatives (such as the Race to the Top "Teaching and Learning System") and other new and emerging online resources (e.g., cost saving digital textbooks). The Technology Readiness Tool will help us evaluate the technology capacity necessary to prepare students for 21st century learning and inform our planning and budgeting in support of this goal.
Periodic updates using the TRT will enable schools, districts, and the state to understand the extent to which we are making progress and what remains to be done in order to be ready for online assessments (and more) by the 2014-2015 school year. In the event that some schools will not be ready to administer the assessments online, PARCC is developing alternatives that will not depend on computers and Internet access for their delivery.
The implementation of the Technology Readiness Tool (TRT), beginning this spring, is a critical first step in preparing schools and the state for administration of online assessments beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. The TRT is designed to provide a comprehensive and reliable profile of the technology infrastructure and related resources in schools, and this first implementation will provide your district and our state with important baseline information. Through a combination of data detected automatically by the tool and data submitted by users, this new open source tool will help schools and districts evaluate their current capacity and compare it to the technology that will be needed to administer the online assessments.
Roles and Responsibilities
State: In support of this effort, the Department has assigned an individual to fill the role of State Readiness Coordinator (SRC). Our state's SRC is Baiba Ozols, Instructional Technology Specialist, who will be supported by Steven Chrostowski, our PARCC Coordinator.
The SRC will be responsible for:
- serving as liaison to PARCC and Pearson;
- entering and maintaining organizational data (e.g., organization name and code, contact person);
- communicating regularly with and providing training and support to local technology personnel responsible for TRT implementation-technology directors at districts and principals at non-public schools that administer MCAS tests will soon receive an email with additional detail; and
- setting up user accounts at the district level for public schools and at the building level for non-public schools-authorized users will receive an email in mid-April providing them with a username and password.
Local: The tool must be implemented at the building level. Local staff will be responsible for:
- setting up additional user accounts for staff who will implement the TRT-we recommend that accounts be set up for individuals who currently submit the annual technology plan;
- entering or batch uploading data into the tool relative to four areas of capacity (Attached you will find a complete list of data to be collected this spring.):
- device specifications, such as operating system, processor, memory, monitor size
- device to test-taker ratio, including number of devices and number of students
- network infrastructure, such as internet bandwidth and maximum network speed
- personnel, including categories of concern; and
- communicating when finished with data entry for a particular data collection window.
The TRT will collect data during two windows each year (spring and fall) through 2014. Given the scale of planning for, communicating about, and implementing the TRT, we will pilot the tool in several districts from March 20 to April 10, 2012. The first of six data collection windows for all schools will be April 23 to June 14, 2012. However, the TRT will become available on April 17 should you wish to make use of the school vacation week. Additional strategies for TRT roll out will be available via Assess4Ed.net, an online community operated by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) to support technology leaders in transitioning to next-generation assessments.
The goal of the first window is to collect baseline data, including the number and specifications of devices currently in schools. In the first data collection window, schools' current devices will be measured against proposed minimum hardware specifications to establish a baseline inventory (proposed specifications will be available at www.PARCConline.org). Evaluating technology readiness will be an iterative process, and as more information is known about PARCC's and SBAC's technology architectures, the hardware specifications will be updated in the TRT for use in future data collection windows. SRCs will communicate with local personnel to ensure that necessary information is collected and/or updated in each data collection window.
Pearson is providing the following resources:
- Online Training Module: The online training module will be available beginning March 12, 2012, at www.TechReadiness.org/TrainingModule. The training will give step-by-step instructions for accessing and using the tool.
- User Guide: A guide to assist local personnel as they use the tool will be available at www.TechReadiness.org/UsersGuide.
- FAQs: An FAQ document will be posted to www.TechReadiness.org/FAQs.
Thank you for your efforts in supporting the successful collection of these data. Please direct questions about the TRT to Baiba Ozols at TechTool@doe.mass.edu. For general information about PARCC, visit www.PARCConline.org, and for specific information about the implementation of PARCC in Massachusetts, please contact Steven Chrostowski at PARCC@doe.mass.edu.
Technology Readiness Tool Parameters to be Collected in Spring 2012