Challenges to Common Core State Standards Testing Create Opportunities for New Solutions

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There has been heated debate over the Common Core State Standards and how they will impact our students. The new standards bring with them not just instructional, but also technical challenges. Between March 24 and June 6 of this year, more than 4 million students in 36 states and the District of Columbia will take near-final versions of the new tests. The technical and logistical aspects of the tests pose a challenge for both large and small school districts alike.

The State Educational Technology Directors Association shared that at least 33 states were delivering at least one major test via technology as of 2011, and the rest of the states had not yet taken that step. This means that for the rest of these states, common-core testing could be a shock to the system.

Already, issues range from not having sufficient devices, to not having sufficient bandwidth. Many schools have adopted the strategy of rotating devices among students to maximize their limited number of devices. However, shorter testing windows now mean that schools will need more devices and will subsequently have to contend with more devices using more bandwidth at the same time. The common core tests are also data-heavy using videos, animated graphics and interactive graphs. Not all schools are equipped with sufficient bandwidth to cope with the additional network load.

Throw in new tablet devices with wireless connection for testing and you really have a challenge of historic proportions. Schools need to ensure that students’ devices are thoroughly locked down and secure during testing. There is thus a need for new software solutions that can securely lockdown these new devices while minimizing their impact on school networks.

A new generation of cloud-based solutions could be the answer to some of these problems. Cloud-based solutions require little to no additional infrastructure investment from schools and when designed properly, have minimal network impact. It will be interesting to see how the educational technology industry responds to the challenge and the products that will present themselves in the coming months.

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