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Conflicting Reports: Are Missouri's Schools Prepared To Make The Switch to Online Testing?

Credit: DESE and MASA
Credit: DESE and MASA

There are conflicting state reports on just how ready Missouri School districts are to make the leap from traditional paper and pencil standardized testing to online testing. KSMU’s Shane Franklin spoke with state agencies and has this report.



In 2010, the Missouri State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards, according to a press release from DESE, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

The standards are designed to make sure that students are prepared for college and the workforce, so that America as a whole is best positioned to compete in the global economy.

Starting in 2014, testing for the Missouri Assessment Program will no longer be done using the traditional pencil and paper method. At that time, the tests will be implemented online.

In a December, 2012 report from DESE, 95 percent of Missouri Schools that responded to a survey stated that their computer devices are technologically capable of handling the online testing implemented through the Common Core Standards.

Dr. Jeremy Tucker is the Superintendent of Logan-Rogersville Schools. He says that DESE’s report directly conflicts with another state report.

“Subsequent to that [report], the Missouri Association of School Administrators surveyed their districts across the state, and the majority of which responded to their survey and the indication on that perticular  survey was that schools in fact were not equipped to be able to handle the push to administering of online assessments,” says Tucker.

According to a report from the Missouri Association of School Administrators, 87 percent of the schools surveyed in Missouri say that they see obstacles in the implementation of online testing.

Tucker says this poses a couple of problems.  One is the logistical problem of how to take every testing student in the district out of class and find them a place in a computer lab without disrupting learning time in the classroom.

Then, there is the issue of bandwidth. Tucker says that Logan-Rogersville has already had to increase its internet bandwidth by 400 percent. Other districts will have to as well to implement the online assessments.

Tucker also worries about digital literacy, and whether the state should expect all children to be able to test well using a computer.

“For those families that have access to those types of technologies, their students are probably going to go in and feel very comfortable in utilizing technology for online assessments. It’s those students who don’t have access to that at home, and perhaps aren't as comfortable with it, in which we have to come along side and ensure that by the third grade, their skill level is to a point in which it doesn’t inhibit them from their ultimate performance on an assessment,” says Tucker.

DESE says that online testing offers clear advantages, like timely feedback and improved accommodation for students with special needs.

The online assessment tests in Missouri are not scheduled to begin until the 2014-15 school year.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.