Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of The Guide to Technology Requirements?

  • The Guide to Technology Requirements website is a one-stop resource to help school districts identify technology requirements for online assessments as well as provide considerations for instruction, learning, and school operations.

How will The Guide to Technology Requirements do this?

  • As districts prepare for the new online assessments, the site provides a one-stop resource for districts to find out which tests their state will administer, specific technology requirements for those tests, and guidance for how to think about those requirements in the overall context of other school technology needs, including instruction, learning, and operations.

Who is behind The Guide to Technology Requirements?

  • The website was developed and is maintained by the State Educational Technology Directors Association, which is working closely with the six multistate consortia that are developing the new assessments. The project was developed with the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As technology needs change, how will The Guide to Technology Requirements be kept up to date?

  • The State Educational Technology Directors Association will be working closely with the consortia developing the tests to ensure that the site is updated as new requirements are released. The requirements were vetted and approved by all consortia in May 2014.

How can I provide feedback about ways the website can be improved to better meet my needs?

  • Email us your feedback.

What tests are included in The Guide to Technology Requirements?

Two multistate consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, are developing online assessments to evaluate students’ performance on the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

Other multistate consortia are developing Common Core-aligned tests that states may administer to English language learner students and students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. These consortia are aligning their technology requirements with PARCC and Smarter Balanced, but the assessments may have some additional specifications. The Guide for Technology Requirements includes:

  • The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
  • The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced)
  • Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (WIDA).
  • English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21);
  • Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment Consortia Assessment System;
  • National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) assessment.

States may administer additional online tests in other subject areas. Technology requirements for those assessments are not included on the website at this time.

How does The Guide to Technology Requirements work?

Visitors will select their state and then view the consortia to which their state belongs, as well as the technology requirements for those consortia’s tests. The site provides detailed specifications for each test, side by side, on one page.

Visitors also can limit the information they view. For example, if a district uses only Mac computers, the viewer can hide information that is not relevant, such as specifications for Windows or Linux computers.

What additional guidance is provided to help districts develop a comprehensive technology plan?

The Guide to Technology Requirements provides guidance for states on ensuring: (a) test readiness; (b) student readiness; (c) educator readiness; and (d) school system readiness.

I have the technology I need to meet requirements for the tests. Why should I visit The Guide to Technology Requirements website?

The website provides key issues for districts to consider as they identify technology for teaching and learning, professional learning, and school operations as well as assessments.

In addition, the consortia’s requirements for devices will change over time as new devices are brought to market and as manufacturers phase out support for existing platforms and devices. The website provides up-to-date, accurate information about technology requirements for the tests.

Why do I need The Guide to Technology Requirements?

Districts need to prepare now for the new technology requirements — and for ways the technology requirements will change over time.

  • The new assessments will be administered in most states beginning in 2014–15 (PARCC and Smarter Balanced). Tests for students with significant cognitive disabilities also will be administered for the first time in 2014–15 (DLM Alternate Assessment) and 2015–16 (NCSC assessment). Likewise, tests for English language learner students will be administered for the first time in 2015–16 (WIDA ASSETS) and in 2016–17 (ELPA21).
  • Over time, the consortia’s minimum technology requirements will change as manufacturers phase out support for different operating systems. The website will provide accurate, up-to-date information about current technology requirements.

The website provides up-to-date, accurate information about technology requirements for the online assessments in one place. For districts that have questions about what devices they can use for the different tests, the website provides one consolidated resource and allows districts to filter out information that is not relevant to them.

Although most districts are aware that their state will administer the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessments, many are unaware that the state will also administer separate assessments for some English language learner and special education students. The website shows which tests the state will administer and includes technology requirements for these assessments to help districts develop a comprehensive plan.

The website provides guidance to help districts think about technology needs as a whole, not just for assessments, and to plan for long-term sustainability.

  • Schools use educational technology to meet a variety of needs beyond the assessments, including teaching and learning, professional learning, and school operations.
  • Schools also need to ensure that the devices students use to take the tests are the same ones they use in the classroom so that performance on the test reflects a student’s mastery of the standards, not a lack of familiarity with the technology.
  • To support student learning, teachers need professional learning on how to integrate the technology students will use to take the test into their instruction.
  • As the number and variety of computing devices on campus grows, schools need to develop a plan to manage infrastructure and include technology costs as an ongoing line item in annual budgets.

If you have questions about this site or notice any discrepancies in the information presented, please email us.


Consortia information current as of September 23, 2014. View changelog