School districts face an opportunity to reinvest in network infrastructure
The Challenge and Promise of Common Core Assessments
In the world of K-12 education, the push toward compliance with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessments is just around the corner. So far, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS and vowed to build assessments around them.1 These standards — combined with the Framework for 21ST-Century Learning developed by the Partnership for 21ST-Century Skills2 — will frame the conversation around educational outcomes for the foreseeable future. The upside of all this change: School districts in all of these states will be testing students on similar (if not the same) curriculum. The down- side: Significant changes in assessments will need to occur between now and the 2014-2015 school year.
Many of these changes are already underway. In response to a recent Center for Digital Education (CDE) survey, 72 percent of 152 responding education technology professionals said their district’s adoption plan was either in the works or in the early stages, and would be completed no later than the spring of 2014.
However, the biggest change will be the way in which assessments are delivered. States that comply with the CCSS are strongly encouraged to administer assessments online, and those states that are adopting their own standards have vowed to deliver assessments electronically as well. The guidelines stipulate that once online assessments are in place, all students in a grade must take the tests simultaneously — meaning school districts must provide and support the bandwidth infrastructure necessary to administer the exams. Bandwidth challenges won’t be confined to local area networks (LANs); participating districts must ensure that wide area networks (WANs) are able to administer assessments as well. Once the bandwidth issue is resolved, network administrators likely will grapple with other challenges such as device access, network redundancy, resiliency and technical support.
In short, adherence to Common Core guidelines will force school districts across the nation to rethink the way they handle networking and computing in a number of mission-critical areas.
This CDE white paper will provide a roadmap for meeting some of those challenges, give more information about the significance of the CCSS, and help school districts identify issues and concerns these new requirements can create. It will spotlight solutions such as LAN and WAN support, backup services and others that can help online assessments run smoothly. Backed by data from the recent CDE research survey, the goal of this paper is to outline how the CCSS juggernaut provides school districts with a golden opportunity to reinvest in infrastructure, and offer suggestions for how to make it all happen.
A Closer Look at the Common Core
Taken as a whole, the CCSS is a common set of goals and objectives designed to unify key minimum requirements of what American students are learning in the K-12 environment. The state-led effort is being coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a nonprofit charged with spearheading the effort across the board, the formal mission is to ”provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”
1. The four states that have not adopted CCSS – Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia and Texas – have created their own standards.
2. Partnership for 21st-Century Skills, Framework for 21st-Century Learning, www.p21.org/overview
For more information about the Common Core State Standards, visit www.corestandards.org.