Online testing forces equipment upgrades

Schools begin preparation for the testing season with the new standard that all exams will be computer-based. This raises the question: Do they have the technology to provide the tests the government is now requiring?

Starting next school year, grades five through 10 will all have computer-based standardized tests, compared to only four grades currently such exams. The number of computer-based tests issued next year is an issue schools have never had to deal with. With Common Core curriculum being phased in next year at the same time severe budget cuts are slated to take effect, the school system is going to have a lot of change in a short time.

West Shore testing coordinator Mike Drake said the plan for next year includes 25 new computers and an additional testing lab, but that even these upgrades may not be enough for the following years.

“Right now the plan we are making is creating a 45-station computer lab for testing in the media center so that, added to the two labs that we already use, will give us three separate testing locations,” Drake said. “This plan will help us accomplish testing for this year and next. The computer-based testing is not going away. It’s only going to get more intensive.”

Assistant Principal Jim Melia said the state’s computer-based testing plan has not been well thought out.

“Politicians have been lobbied by online test providers so then lawmakers think computer-based testing is a good deal. They then make a state law without coming to us and asking if we have the supplies to provide,” he said. “So it’s just very difficult, not to mention all the levels of online FCAT and end-of-course exams.”

By Brady Kelsey