Friday, February 22, 2013

PARCC and Pearson Assessments Are Coming

Goodbye, #2 pencils: the days of filling in bubbles will be coming to an end. Soon, BVSD students will take standardized assessments online.

Colorado is adopting two new kinds of assessments:
  1. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) will test English Language Arts and Math
  2. Pearson exams will measure Science and Social Studies
Pearson exams are being piloted this spring and will be implemented during the 2013-14 school year. PARCC will follow in the 2014-15 school year.

IT is working with Curriculum, Assessment & Instruction to make the transition to online assessments as smooth as possible. If you have any question about assessments, I encourage you to contact Jonathan Dings or Brigitte Mutter in the Office of Planning and Assessment or via email at

Jonathan Wright and Angel Stobaugh are happy to address questions related to the English Language Arts section of the future PARCC assessments.

Here are some other resources you might find helpful:

What do the new assessments mean for technology at BVSD?

I know that many teachers and principals have concerns about whether we will be ready for online assessments from a technology perspective. I want you to know that IT is proactively working towards making sure that we are ready for this brave new world.

Here is what IT, in partnership with CAI, has done so far:
  • We have submitted the Information Technology Readiness Tool data to the CDE. 
  • As part of gathering these data, we have inventoried every computer lab in the district. 
  • We have attended a Site Readiness Technical Training in person and online. 
  • We have made sure that all BVSD desktop computers currently meet the minimum computer hardware specifications designated by the CDE. 
Many of you are also concerned that there is not enough technology in your buildings to administer these tests. We are working to make more refurbished computers available to schools, provided that school principals are willing to do the following:
  • Purchase flat screen monitors.
  • Ensure there are enough network drops.
  • Provide an adequate number of switches to support the drops.
CDE is still working out many details of the transition to online assessments, which may be causing you some concern. This transition is important; I want you to know that we'll continue to put resources into its successful implementation at BVSD.

Please chime in with your thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.


  1. So....principals are required to purchase monitors, add more network drops and switches to accommodate the added machines. Who pays for that? Will the extra money needed come from the state, or district, or will schools have to make programming/personnel changes to free up fund?. It's not just a matter of more computers in the building. The infrastructure needed to add more tech, costs money, and I don't see any mention of the funding. After several years of people's jobs being "on the chopping block," due to budget constraints, I'm very concerned about how this will be paid for. I'd hate to see people/positions sacrificed for machines and online testing. Just sayin'!

    1. The costs for the monitors are minimal. We've committed about 150 refurbished PCs as of today.

    2. What does minimal equal in actual dollars? That's a relative term and when you have $0 any cost can become substantial. There are many, many needs that aren't addressed now that might be a higher priority than monitors and more drops.

    3. Monitors are about $115. The priorities are different for each school and is the reason why we leave the decisions to the Principals.

  2. We do not have enough computers at our school OR ROOM FOR ALL THE COMPUTERS NEEDED to implement this if all the kids are supposed to take the test at the same time. How much will it cost to do this? We also barely have enough internet service for all our teachers to be on line at once, let alone some 800+ students. Finally, there is not nearly enough IT support. If there are any problems with the technology, what are we supposed to do?

    1. The internet should be fine. We monitor it and we have plenty of bandwidth. As for space and computers, please work with your principal on needs and we'll do the best we can to address them.

    2. It might be useful for you to visit some schools (elem, middle, and high school, because we all have different challenges toward this) and see how meeting the mandate would actually play out in the different buildings across the district.

    3. Hi Sarah, Thank you for your comments. I do get out to the schools as often as possible, about 20 this school year. Space is an issue for sure and you are spot on that 1:1 and wireless need to be our future direction.

  3. I worry about us throwing more resources into desktop technology in schools to meet these mandates. We need to be moving toward wireless to support one-to-one computing across the district.

    What about a district testing center? Put the hard-wired, desktop machines that we need to meet these mandates into one central location for testing. It would be so much easier to maintain the machines and keep them in the proper configurations for testing. Across the district, we probably have enough machines if we test students all in one location. Move desktop machines from schools and really make the move to one-to-one computing.

    Of course this brings up challenges surrounding how to rotate groups of students through the testing center for testing, and we would have to figure that out.

    But let's not spend our precious resources on umpteen desktop computers just to meet state testing mandates. We should be looking more long-term here: where are we headed with technology in our district and how can we harness this movement to get there?

    I'm sorry, but I see the possibility of doubling or tripling (or more) the desktop machines in my building (Fairview) as a huge step backward toward acquiring the tools we really need to prepare our students for our 21st century world. We need wireless. We need devices in students' hands. We need to think about the money we're spending on paper resources (i.e. textbooks) in light of all the materials available digitally. I'm not interested in figuring out how to shoehorn more desktop computers into our building (seriously--where will we put them?) or spending the money it takes to provide drops for all of them. That's a huge expense, and it's money better spent toward goals beyond making sure we comply with guidelines for giving a test once a year.

  4. I think we have a lot to learn still. I can't imagine everyone will have to take the test at the same time. There are 20 states doing the PARCC. Its not like BVSD is the only place that this would not be possible. Plus, the technology is certainly smart enough to not make the test the same for everyone.

    Also, you will be able to use tablets and netbooks as long as they meet certain specs (1 GB RAM, 9.7" screen). They might have to have a keyboard - don't know yet. Maybe we need to have sets of these that circulate to schools for testing?? If you are interested in the specs, you can find out more at

  5. That you Libby for chiming in with this information!

  6. Since this is a district requirement I believe the district should pay for the extra hardware and infrastructure required by this mandate. I also agree with Sarah Z that increasing the number of desktops in our building is not a path towards the future. How about the district buys enough tablets to support several schools and loans them out for testing? Of course the wireless issues will also need to be addressed -- again the district should shoulder this expense not individual schools. How will the district work out issues of testing on different days?

  7. Hi Kelly, The details of testing days are still vague. As we learn more, concrete plans will be put together and shared. Thank you for chiming in.



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