Apr 9, 2013 7:06 PM by Chris Welty

Louisiana Schools Will Transition to Online Testing

For years, standardized testing has been the same in Louisiana, the Leap and the
I-Leap. Soon, those tests will be a thing of the past.

The new test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or "PARCC" will be online.

The test is designed to track students' progress in English and math. Schools will have one year to prepare for the new online test and PARCC will be fully implemented in Louisiana by the 2014-2015 school year.

This test will be a big change in Louisiana's education system. Though some educators are divided, one teacher believes the changes are necessary.

Chanda Johnson is a teacher at Midland High and has taught in the school system for nearly nine years. She has attended workshops to prepare for the state's new PARCC online testing system. Johnson believes switching from scan-trons and bubble tests will be a challenge, but it's one that has to be met.

"Students don't relate well with a paper and pencil test when you're looking at that thing anymore, it's not what they're used to. Students have gone digital and it's time for education to catch up."

Barry Landry with the State Department of Education says this online test better meets what the state is requiring teachers to teach in their classrooms everyday. Landry says this test is more rigorous and will help to better prepare students in the areas of English and math.

School districts are still working out the logistics of the new test. Some educators are also questioning if the change will work for everyone. Johnson says she's confident.

"If I come to my classroom everyday prepared to teach common core then I'm going to do well with my evaluation and assessment. I do my best everyday."

Johnson is already implementing new teaching methods in her classroom to prepare students for the PARCC online testing. She says her students are more engaged.

"I've been piloting a lot of common core lessons in my classroom and the students pick it up right away. They don't even realize it's different at first, they just realize they're awake and not sleeping."

Across the state, schools are at different points when it comes to preparing for the online test. Here's the breakdown for how many computers are ready in Acadiana Parishes:

Lafayette: 2,745
St. Mary: 640
Iberia: 399
St. Martin: 357
Vermilion: 306
Evangeline: 265
Jeff Davis: 164
Acadia: 103
St. Landry: 43

The Louisiana Department of Education acknowledges obstacles include lack
of Internet bandwidth, insufficient LAN and or WAN backbone
network infrastructure, and lack of or insufficient wireless access in schools.

The LDE also conducted a survey showing that 100% of participating schools have Internet access, however 90% of these schools also reported Internet or network
congestion, school-level network hardware that limits connectivity, nonexistent or limited wireless access within school sites and dwindling IT staff to support technology

22 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. These new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students' progress toward this goal from 3rd grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support. The PARCC assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year.

Chris Welty



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