Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: What Are You Doing to Develop Tech Skills Needed for Common Core Assessments?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers what their schools and districts are doing to develop the technology skills students need to take the Common Core State Standards assessments.

One of the challenges that face schools as they approach the assessments for the Common Core State Standards is that the aligned tests will be administered on computers. About a year from now, many schools will give these online tests to students, whether or not they are completely ready. Schools are now grappling with whether their technology, students' computer skills, and their connectivity are set to go. The two organizations designing the tests have offered pilot tests and tryouts to help schools prepare, but the burden falls more heavily on the schools themselves to develop plans to make sure student are prepared for these tests. Challenges include polishing students' keyboarding skills, understanding that questions may have more than one answer, using click and drag techniques, and working with the inclusion of audio clips, among other skills needed.

When asked what they are doing to develop and improve the students' proficiency with technology-based assessments in preparation for the Common Core tests, readers indicated that the most common way schools are increasing student competencies in this area is by doing "business as usual"—students will learn these skills by using technology as part of regular subject-based instruction (44 percent). Following this, more than a quarter acknowledge that there might not be a lot of technology instruction going on, as many students still need to learn these skills (25 percent). About ten percent of the educators who responded selected one of the following two responses, indicating that they have had the assessments on their minds for some time now:

  • We have spent several years slowly transitioning to online assessments (10 percent)
  • We have a comprehensive digital literacy strategy that begins in kindergarten (7 percent)

A third response, given at the level of about 10 percent of the sample, indicated that some schools were more likely to "wing it" and go with skills the students currently have and hope for the best with the online testing, reporting that they will quickly switch to online testing and work with the skills and training they have (8 percent).

This survey question was included in ASCD SmartBrief, a free daily e-mail news service that provides summaries and links to major education stories and issues, which has more than 215,000 subscribers. Using ED Pulse, the weekly online poll, data was collected from 261 readers, starting on March 6, 2014. Online surveys do not provide a random sample, as participants are self-selected, meaning that a margin of sampling error cannot be calculated or quoted. In addition, the population and sample are limited to those with access to computers and an online network. However, online surveys have been shown to produce results that have proven to be reliable predictors of outcomes, including election results. If you have a question on education that you would like to see addressed in a future ED Pulse poll, feel free to submit it in the comment section below, along with any other comments.

Kit Harris is the marketing research lead at ASCD. The quantitative and qualitative research work done is in support of strategic initiatives in marketing, membership, product/program/service development, and conferences/meetings. Harris started her career in Chicago at a marketing research firm, then moved to D.C. to serve as the research director at advertising agency Earle Palmer Brown & Associates. Prior to coming to ASCD, she ran her own research firm.

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