With online learning platforms becoming a popular edtech tool in many K-12 classrooms, it’s no surprise that standardized testing has also become digitalized. Online testing seems to be a simple and convenient alternative to students filling out bubble sheets with No. 2 pencil, except when the technology doesn’t work.
The Daily Herald reported this week that Maury County Public Schools’ first day of standardized testing of the digital TNReady assessment, Tennessee’s new and improved TCAP test for English language arts and math in grades 3-11, started later than expected due to a server being down. While the problem was quickly resolved and testing was able to resume at 10:30 a.m. for Maury County Public Schools, other districts were forced to completely stop the examination for the day.
According to the article, the technical issue resulted in the Tennessee Department of Education’s decision to have schools give a paper version of Part I and Part II of the assessment during a revised testing window planned for announcement today. The discontinuing of the digital testing process has been discouraging for many schools in the state, as some students weren’t able to log on at all, while others were unable to continue after completing part of the test.
The transition to the digital TNReady assessment from the traditional TCAP test allows students to access features such as on-screen instructions and a pop-up glossary and thesaurus. While there are many benefits to this digital transition, it’s clear that Tennessee schools may not have been adequately prepared to implement the online test.
Technical issues happen, which is why it’s important that schools are prepared for these issues before they occur. If schools were prepared with back-up paper tests, testing could have continued. Instead, most students are being forced to re-prepare for a test, and may even have to re-answer questions. These interruptions in the learning process can be costly, as students can become discouraged, frustrated and disengaged.
While technology can greatly enhance learning, it cannot be fully relied on, which is why it is important to keep in mind the purpose of technology in the classroom in the first place. Technology should be used as a tool for learning and should only be used when it has the potential to truly enhance education.
While digital testing is convenient and provides students with resources they may not have in a traditional testing environment, it won’t improve education if schools aren’t properly prepared to utilize it. The ceasing of the TNReady assessment is just one example of this.
To learn more about making digital learning succeed, check out this guide: How to Ensure Digital Learning Makes an Impact on Education.
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