This week, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) issued guidance designed to inform schools and districts as they make annual instructional technology purchases. The guidelines include hardware and operating system specifications covering the vast majority of commercially available computers and tablets.
You'll notice a new addition to the list of acceptable hardware: iPads. Both consortia are working with Apple and Google to ensure that, by 2014-15, iPads and other tablets will have a "lock down" feature. This will enable students to use tablets on the SBAC and PARRC assessments.
“Schools and districts make decisions each year about what types of hardware and software to purchase for instructional use, and they want to know that any devices acquired over the next two years will be compatible with the new assessments,” said Tony Alpert, chief operating officer of Smarter Balanced. “We are confident that new computers and tablets meeting these specifications will be Smarter Balanced-ready in 2014-15.”
The guidelines are meant to inform current and future purchasing decisions. As part of their plans to support instruction, districts and schools may select computer systems that meet or exceed these guidelines and be confident that those systems will work with the assessments in the 2014-15 school year. Support for operating systems not specified, predating those specified, or with processor capacities lower than recommended, will be described in future updates to these guidelines.
The specifications do not constitute the full list of technical requirements that will be necessary to administer Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments 2014-2015. The member states in both consortia will collaborate to use the technology readiness surveys and assessment design processes currently underway to shape the full and final list of requirements including guidance on bandwidth, test system security, and alternate input devices.