Common Core exams will be done on Chromebooks via wireless connections

The Taft City School District has a year left to get the students and the district prepared for the new Common Core testing.

The new tests will replace the old “bubble sheets” where answers are filled in with pencils and students will now take the tests online.
That means the district is going to have to have the devices and the infrastructure to handle online testing.

District Technology Coordinator Greg Mudge updated the board of education Wednesday night on the planning and preparation for the testing in the spring of 2015.

“It's been on the fast track and its coming at us like a freight train,” Mudge told the board.

The next step are practice tests coming this spring at Roosevelt to make sure the wireless infrastructure is capable of handling large numbers of students testing online at the same time.

He's attended conferences and, along with teachers and principals, visited other districts to see how they are preparing.

The district's device of choice is going to be the Samsung Chromebook loaded with Google software.

The district already has about 360 of the devices and has a goal of getting to about 1200 to allow all students in grades three through eight to have their own device.

In fact, the students may one day be studying without books.

“Instead of a backpack with four or five books in it, they'll have one device with four of five books on it,” Mudge said.

One of the first tasks the district faces is making sure it has the infrastructure to handle the online testing over the wireless connections at each school site, Mudge said.

The Chromebooks cost about $250 each and don't have any memory space and they won't be taking up space on the district's servers, either.

“They're completely dependent on the internet,” Mudge said. “The beauty of these things is everything is stored somewhere else.”

Students can access their work and email within the district, but not externally.

Lincoln Principal Brandi Swearengin reported on a trip to see the devices and software in action at the Pond School District.

She was impressed.

Software programs allow students to work at a level they comfortable with and matches their abilities, and allows teachers to see how the students are progressing and which ones may needed extra help.

Students are also able to collaborate on projects with up to 50 others. Each student will have access t 30 gigabytes of storage at remote servers.