Within funds specifically appropriated therefor, the superintendent shall obtain or develop education technology assessments that may be administered in the elementary, middle, and high school grades to assess the essential academic learning requirements for technology. The assessments shall be designed to be classroom or project-based so that they can be embedded in classroom instruction and be administered and scored by school staff throughout the regular school year using consistent scoring criteria and procedures. By the 2010-11 school year, these assessments shall be made available to school districts for the districts' voluntary use.Kind of exciting, don't you think? I do. My mind has been abuzz with all sorts of ways that these "classroom or project-based" assessments could look. (Tech standards are here, in case you're interested to see what we will attempt to assess.) My goal is to make sure that these assessments rock so hard that teachers will just have to have them, even though it is voluntary. Most of my focus right now is on gathering resources that might be useful for the task ahead. Some things I've learned along the way:
- NCLB requires that every school with 8th graders report a measure of those students' technology literacy. This does not mean a formal assessment is required---most states are sliding along using a simple survey or reporting tool.
- According to the most recent version of Education Week's annual Technology Counts report, only 13 states had some sort of assessment of technology skills. Of those, 6 are using a canned on-line test, 4 have their own online versions of a test (I couldn't see what was behind the curtain), and 3 are a complete mystery---nary a shred of evidence on the state department of education websites (most of which are painful, at best, to navigate).
- Bottom line: I'm hanging out on my own here. Sigh.
The problem is that most projects which ostensibly use educational technology end up with rubrics that assess other things, such as writing or speaking skills. These rubrics aren't bad. I have no beef with them other than they supply no way to measure the students understanding and use of technology. Those are the real targets we're after. I find this lack of presence not only frustrating, but careless. With all the passion being put into the educational mindset about 21st century skills---why doesn't anyone at least make some sort of effort to measure them? If we believe that the sorts of tools and thinking that occurs in a "modern" learning environment are important...why do we have no way to provide feedback to students about this? I don't buy the argument that only the product matters. When we say we are placing value on innovation and creativity using educational technology---then there must be some better guidance than "I'll know it when I see it."
I do think that I'm on the right track with rubrics that incorporate thinking skills or focus on the qualities of educational technology products (e.g. What makes for a good podcast?), but this all feels like very new territory. This is odd when I am more or less late to this game. Many others have been focusing on educational technology far longer and more deeply than I. I have no doubts whatsoever as to the high quality of lessons and instruction out there. I just wonder if kids are getting the scores and feedback that they should have.