Determining the Status Quo & Moving Into the Future
EnderTech was sought out by educational consultant the Metiri Group for assistance with a major project for the Michigan Department of Education (“MDE”). Along with 44 other states, Michigan is moving towards adoption of the “Common Core” standards. This also involves a move to online standardized testing. It will be a paradigm shift significantly impacting nearly 5,000 Michigan schools.
The online standardized testing includes a 2015 deadline to meet the technology standards as defined by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The MDE needed to assess the current and future technological readiness for online testing of every school in the state. Such required an ability to centralize all computer device and technological data while also providing secure access to it by administrators only for their area of responsibility (i.e., school, district(s) or state wide). The goal was to enable administrators to easily assess current technological readiness status as well as provide them with tools for how best to improve it.
The MDE brought in educational consultant Metiri for expertise in formulating and implementing a plan to meet that goal. Metiri determined the relevant data to be measured and developed a 0 to 9 rating scale for assessing overall “Readiness for Online Testing” using three sub-categories: “Overall Technology Readiness”, “Network Readiness” and “Device Readiness.” Among the numerous factors accounted for are quantity and quality of computers (operating system, processor speed, resolution, et al.), available reliable bandwidth, test eligible students, test sittings, testing days allotted, “Wireless Access Points” and upgradeable testing devices.
Metiri developed algorithms that connected all such factors with the data to formulate the numerical ratings for “Readiness for Online Testing”. Metiri turned to EnderTech to both programatically implement the algorithms as well as to provide each level of administrator with the tools to easily assess technological readiness and determine their options for overcoming any deficiencies.
Collaboration Results in Solution Implementation
In collaboration with Metiri, EnderTech designed and developed a database-driven web application for the Michigan Department of Education. A state-of-the-art application that stores information about each school’s computer devices and network capabilities on one side of the equation, and the test eligible students, required testing time frame and test sittings on the other side.
The algorithms developed by Metiri are applied to those technological capabilities and real time testing factors. What results are 0 to 9 ratings (from the red zone of not ready to the green zone of readiness) within the categories of Overall Technology Readiness, Network Readiness and Device Readiness, which make up a school’s overall Readiness for Online Testing.
The results for each school are collated up so that Readiness for Online Testing can be reviewed for the District, the Intermediate School District (an “ISD” is a grouping of school districts) and the entire state of Michigan. The overall security of the data and ratings is coupled with access security whereby administrators only have access within their authority level (e.g., individual school, schools within their district, etc.).
Access by administrators to the current state of technological readiness was only one aspect of the solution. Administrators are also provided with tools to filter data and drill down (e.g., why do only 50% of their computers meet requirements), review a “Gap Analysis” to gauge what is needed to achieve readiness and recommendations for improving upon technological readiness (e.g., re-setting screen resolution will transform non-ready devices to ready ones). To those ends, EnderTech empowered administrators with a real-time reporting dashboard featuring:
- Customized reports plus a “What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get” editor allowing further customization of report layout.
- Setting out “Testing Specifications” with real time data about testing population, test sittings per student and grades to be tested.
- A Staging Area (the “Sandbox”) enabling data manipulation for projections of how adding or subtracting devices affects readiness.
The intent of the Sandbox is modeling. Administrators can alter various parameters to determine how a school might achieve a rating in the green readiness zone. For example, if available bandwidth is insufficient for the amount of test sittings scheduled per day, would adding a test day and decreasing the sittings per day result in sufficient bandwidth on a per day basis? “Playing” in the Sandbox allows administrators to explore the options for achieving technological readiness.
Tools for Transition & Future Challenges
The collaboration of the Metiri Group with Endertech has resulted in the ability of administrators (from individual schools up to the Michigan Department of Education) to progress toward achieving the technological readiness required for common core standardized online testing. Not only do administrators understand their current status, but they also can see where they need to go and the options for getting there.
Initially, the robust system developed by EnderTech will ease the necessary transition of the Michigan Department of Education to meet the technological readiness standards required by 2015. Additionally as the common core standards, standardized online testing and technological readiness requirements inevitably evolve, the Department will have a system adaptable to those changes.