While K12 principals are happy about the incorporation of technology into the Common Core State Standards as noted in the Principals’ Assessment of Public Education: 2nd Annual Report, they have concerns about the technology needed to implement online assessments. As we see decreased funding for schools at all levels (federal, state, local), it is easy to understand their concern. According to the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research , most districts do not have the hardware or bandwidth to convert to online assessments next school year as required by the Common Core. Implementation of the Common Core will require significant technology investment on the part of the states. Several states such as South Carolina have studied the issue to anticipate the financial impact on state districts. Based on their findings, the Pioneer Institute recommends a 4:1 computer to student ratio as the goal to successfully implement online assessments while the reality is closer to 7:1. These cost estimates include:
- Additional electrical power
- Network wiring
- New servers to support increased bandwidth
- Increase of student computer access
- Professional development for educators on online assessment
In a recent article in District Administration magazine, Network Infrastructure Requirements for Common Core Assessments, author Andrew Dyrli Hermeling discusses the impending bandwidth requirements as laid out by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). The minimum requirements have been set at 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff by the 2014 2015 school year and 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff by 2017-2018. He notes:
“While ideal broadband rates may meet SETDA’s benchmarks, old wireless routing devices, less than ideal Wi-Fi coverage due to poorly placed routers, and outdated local network infrastructure can all hinder a network’s robustness. Thus, extensive network broadband verification, with multiple speed tests in various locations within a school building, needs to take place to ensure that the network infrastructure is up to speed.”
The challenge for districts, of course, is how to pay for the additional technology investment. States may have signed onto the Common Core before conducting an assessment of their technology infrastructure’s ability to support the implementation.
The table below illustrates the trends that K12 principals are most concerned about. Although not mentioned by name in this chart, you can see that these specific issues are the same as the ones addressed in this post.