1/8/2014 10:29:00 AM 'New' computers for HUSD students: Upgrades necessary for federal student testing next year
Arizona signs on with PARCC
More than one million students in 18 states and the District of Columbia will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers field test in the spring. This replaces the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards.
The assessments measure language arts and literacy, math, and writing skills. The language arts/literacy tests for reading comprehension, integration of information, writing a persuasive argument, use of context for vocabulary.
The math portion includes understanding and use of number sense, algebraic thinking, geometry and analyzing data; how to use math facts and reasoning skills for problem solving; and how well students justify their approach to solving a problem.
Students will be able to practice sample questions on the PARCC technology platform this month. The field test will give students and teachers a chance to try out program functions, such as equation builders, drag and drop, and highlighting. Tutorials offer students instruction in how to go forward and backward within the test, how to use the tool bar, and how to access embedded supports and accommodations.
Students with special needs can use closed-captioning, Braille, or text-to-speech options. Paper and pencil editions are available for those unable to take the computer-delivered test.
Cost of the test is $29.50 per student, with paper tests costing an additional $3-$4, the PARCC website states. Key costs include developing and field testing the assessment items; building and supporting the staff needed to develop the tests; creating an online delivery system; distributing the tests; receiving and scoring them; publicly releasing test questions, which means that they can't be used in the future; and analyzing and reporting results.
Cost of the AIMS runs $18-$20 per student, said Danny Brown, director of Federal Programs and School Improvement.
"This year's tenth-graders will continue to take the AIMS until they pass it, as it is a graduation requirement," Brown said.
Computers will need to have some features on lock-down mode during testing, such as unrestricted Internet access, cameras (still and video), screen capture (live and recorded), email and printing.
When it returns scores at the end of the year, PARCC will also release some test questions. This will increase transparency and provide teachers with data that can help inform instruction, the website said.
The upcoming changeover from the Arizona test, AIMS, to a federal test, PARCC, will shift students from pencil-and-paper exams to a computerized format.
Humboldt Unified School District is preparing for the change so students can participate in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers computerized practice tests this spring. To do so, the district needs to upgrade its existing computers to run Windows 7.
The governing board approved the purchase of 800 refurbished computers at its Dec. 10 meeting. These machines will replace computers that are six to eight years old, said Patrick Keeling, HUSD director of technology services.
Three companies responded to the bid invitation, and the district awarded the bid to VIG Solutions for $133,000.
"VIG Solutions presented the lowest cost per unit while meeting the specifications outlined in the bid packet," Keeling said in his memo to the board. VIG Solutions also provides a 3-year warranty, and included four complete units sent as spares.
The computers will go to computer labs to help with increased class sizes, libraries, administrative users and "mini-labs."
"We recognize we will be using the computers past three years. We have used this vendor before, and had no experience with the others," Keeling said.
In order for students to take the PARCC test, they needed computers that could run Windows 7, and the district must have enough bandwidth to support the usage. Keeling said the machines being replaced couldn't accommodate the test or other school-related software programs.
When asked about recycling or placing the older computers for auction, Director of Finance Cynthia Windham said, "In reality, the value is so low, it's not worth an auction. State Surplus is an option, or we may be able to donate to non-profits."