About This Project

The purpose of this website, The Guide to Technology Requirements, is to provide technical assistance to states and districts on issues related to school technology readiness for implementation of next-generation Common Core-aligned assessments, especially the technology requirements of the tests offered by the six assessment consortia. The website provides interactive charts, filtered by individual state and consortium, that enable the viewer to read and report on those requirements relevant to a school or district depending upon its specific assessment needs.

Interactive charts
The charts encompass the technology requirements of six assessment consortia:

  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced)
  • WIDA Consortium (WIDA)
  • English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21)
  • DLM Alternate Assessment System (DLM)
  • National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC)

Many cells on the chart contain a symbol (i with a circle around it). When a user clicks on this symbol, additional information regarding the content of that cell will appear. If a visitor prints out any version of the chart, the symbol will turn into an endnote at the bottom of the printed chart and be associated with that cell.

Filtering contents of charts
When a visitor chooses a state or territory, the chart will be filtered to show only those consortia in which that state participates. For example, choosing Iowa will display results for the three consortia it belongs to: Smarter Balanced, ELPA21, and DLM. Once a visitor selects a state, the consortia options for that state are automatically filled in when the visitor clicks “Update chart.” If a visitor wants to view less than the full complement of consortia that the state belongs to, s/he can select them from the available consortia listed under “Consortia.”

The visitor also can limit the type of information that displays for those consortia. For example, if a district uses only Mac computers, technical specifications related to Windows or Linux computers can be hidden by clicking on the minus sign next to them to simplify the view. The specifications then disappear, but the missing type of specification (e.g., Windows or Linux) appears under the category. The visitor can also print the contents of this filtered view for distribution to others.

Comparison of technology requirements across consortia
This chart enables the person using it to review the technology requirements across consortia. Being able to compare across consortia simplifies the job of selecting computing devices and related technologies that will work for almost every student in the school, including those learners with cognitive disabilities and those who are English language learners.

Recommended vs Minimum technology requirements
In cases where the consortium has provided both minimum and recommended technology requirements, the chart displays those side by side. Minimum requirements reflect the lowest level of components that will support online assessments as they are currently designed and developed. However, those devices may not be sufficient to support new forms of testing questions introduced by the 2017-2018 school year. More importantly, those minimum requirements may not support new forms of learning that are even now being introduced into the classroom. Recommended devices provide “future-proofing” by specifying computing devices that support online assessments and learning and are expected to hold up under new computing demands as those evolve.

Guidance for technology planning for assessment and learning
The web site also provides general guidance to school districts implementing online assessments. School districts must consider the context of the full range of technology issues that schools are addressing today, considering the present and future technology needs to meet curricular, instructional, professional learning and school operations goals, as well as assessments. The guidance is by no means comprehensive, but instead looks at different nested dependencies of readiness – test readiness, student readiness, educator readiness and school system readiness. All of these components of readiness are crucial and interdependent; while the short-term tendency may be to focus on readiness for assessments, school system readiness will ensure that all of the nested dependencies will be accomplished.

This project was developed with the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.