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With standardized testing moving away from the fill-in-the-bubble tests of old to new, computerized testing for students, what impact will this have on technology-disadvantaged kids?
Both the new SBAC and PARCC standardized tests that measure a student's mastery of the Common Core will be administered on either computer or tablet. Schools around the country have been preparing for these new tests in a variety of ways – through targeted classroom instruction, technology integration in the classroom, and specialized computer classes in school. Students will be expected to be familiar with how to use the technology to answer test questions and those who aren't will fail to measure up to their peers.
According to the Smarter Balanced testing consortium, producers of the SBAC standardized test, close to two-thirds of students taking the test next year are expected to fall below acceptable proficiency in mathematics, while almost six in ten will fall behind in English. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) hasn't issued predictions yet on how they expect students to perform, but we can expect a similar decrease in proficiency as well.
"Tests are anxiety producing on their own, and if the students aren't familiar with computers it could create additional anxiety," Widefield, Colorado District 3 spokeswoman Samantha Briggs said. "But if they are familiar with how it's done they are more comfortable."
How You Can Prepare Your Students
According to a recent article on scholastic.com, to prepare your students, make sure they have experience with writing on computers and have mastered basic keyboard and word-processing skills. Help them view and manipulate graphs and spreadsheets, as appropriate for their grade level. Encourage them to use technology often, and make sure they have ample opportunities to do so at school. Many students regularly use computers and tablets at home, but for others access is limited outside of school.
“We don’t want a lack of digital literacy skills to prevent students from demonstrating their knowledge about a content area,” says Mary Knight, director of technology for Flagstaff Unified School District in Arizona.
What Else Can You Do?
In many schools, computer time is limited, which means practice time is limited. While a large number of children have access to computers and the Internet at home, for many, the cost limits their access. Kajeet Education Broadband provides safe, affordable Internet access to at-risk children, allowing them to keep pace with their peers. Contact us today if you'd like to learn more about how to get Kajeet Education Broadband in your school or district.