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Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready

Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready

Executive Summary

Full White Paper

This is truly an exciting time to be in education. There is an opportunity to break the status quo and make significant improvements to our education system. The chance to transform from Industrial Age school systems that are more group-focused to Information Age schools systems that are much more customized to the unique needs of individual children—all while providing students greater access to content, resources and support—is within our reach. Two key drivers of this change are the shift to new instructional strategies and online assessments that provide teachers quick access to data on student progress. Ultimately, teachers should be able to use assessment data to modify instruction bases on student academic needs.

Preparing for the new online assessments is a high priority for school districts across the nation and “becoming assessment ready” is a complex and challenging task. In a collaborative effort amongst the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), eLearn Institute and Education Networks of America (ENA) we have developed a suite of resources including a full white paper—“Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready”—that can be downloaded by clicking the provided link. The white paper highlights the purpose and value of online assessments and provides detailed information on the assessment consortia implementation plans as well as network infrastructure, device, support and instructional design and preparation considerations. It also analyzes what practical steps small, medium and large school districts are evaluating and taking as part of their preparation process.

In addition to the white paper and executive summary the suite of resources include school district case studies from three districts, frequently asked questions (FAQs) from school districts and answers from the assessment consortia, and a readiness recommendations and checklist guide.

Presented by


BAR Recommendations Checklist

Readiness Recommendations Checklist

Based on observations from the case studies, interviews with experts and feedback from the assessment consortia, a list of eight key recommendations for becoming assessment ready was created. Each recommendation is accompanied by a checklist of items for school districts to consider as they prepare for online assessments. The checklist helps school districts learn from the experience and key observations of other school districts and helps districts be intentional and comprehensive in their own planning process. The eight key recommendations include:

  • Create a cross-functional strategic planning team
  • Secure funding sources for modern learning environments
  • Embed technology in instructional practice
  • Invest in robust professional development for teachers, administrators and technical staff
  • Build out a robust infrastructure
  • Select devices meeting instructional needs and assessment consortia requirements
  • Communicate–a lot
  • Pay attention to logistics

Download the readiness recommendations and checklist to see what districts should be thinking about and doing for each of the eight key recommendations.

School District Case Studies

School District Case Studies

Three school districts, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (TN), Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (IN) and West Side School District #202 (ID), were visited and interviewed to capture experiences, recommendations and best practices as they prepare for online assessments. The case studies created from these visits provide insight into what practical steps small, medium and large school districts are taking to become assessment ready.

Download the school district case studies to understand what these districts are doing to embrace digital learning and prepare for online assessments as well as receive valuable insights from their shared lessons learned.

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS)

Tennessee’s Metro Nashville Public Schools is a large urban school district serving a diverse student population that totals 83,000 students in more than 150 schools. Tennessee is a member of PARCC, and MNPS participated in the spring field tests as well as full PARCC operational assessments.

Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (Warren Township)

The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township is a medium-sized urban school district located on the east side of Indianapolis, Indiana, that serves approximately 11,500 students. While Indiana has not made a final decision whether to go with PARCC or Smarter Balanced or create its own standards-based assessments, Warren Township has deep experience in the administration of online assessments.

West Side School District #202 (WSSD)

West Side School District #202 is located in a small rural community of southeast Idaho and serves 635 students in three school buildings with 40 teachers. Idaho is a member of Smarter Balanced, and WSSD will be administering the Smarter Balanced online assessments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

CoSN and the e-Learn Institute conducted an online survey with school districts across the country to find out what key questions and concerns they had about becoming assessment ready. District respondents included members from CoSN as well as the Council of the Great City Schools. Key questions were asked of the school districts, and the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) or concerns from their responses were collated and combined into questions posed to the consortia.

The questions were consolidated into five main categories:

  • Network Infrustructure
  • Device and Device Managment
  • Training and Professional Development
  • Funding
  • Other

Download their written responses to the questions in the FAQ.

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