Bye-bye, Paper and Pencil Tests!

Hello, computer-based assessment!

The current wave of education reform has states working together to develop common standards and assessments. The common standards, known as the Common Core Standards, have been adopted by most states already and are under consideration for adoption in almost all of the rest of the states.

There have been several major grant competitions tied to the idea of working in collaboration with other states and to developing computer-based assessments aligned to Common Core Standards. Two consortia have been funded to tackle the task of designing and implementing these new assessments:


The SBAC will use grant funds to create adaptive online exams that will provide accurate assessment information to teachers and others on the progress of all students, including those with disabilities, English language learners and low- and high-performing students. The system will include:

  • summative exams offered twice each school year;

  • optional formative, or benchmark exams; and

  • a variety of tools, processes and practices for teachers to use in planning and implementing informal, ongoing assessment.

  • Administrators can use student test scores to improve educator accountability and to help identify professional development needs of teachers and principals.


The goal of PARCC is to create an assessment system that will ensure students graduate college and career ready from high school. The proposed assessment system will be computer-based and will measure student progress at key times during the school year, rather than on one test at the end, to allow for instructional adjustment and extra support to students who need it. To ensure college and career alignment, higher education systems and institutions in all PARCC states, nearly 200 in total, have signed up to help develop the new high school tests. The goal will be for those institutions, and the nearly 1,000 campuses they represent, to honor the results of the new assessments as an indicator of students' readiness to take first year credit-bearing courses.

As is evident from these descriptions, both consortia will be developing online assessments. This represents a significant change from the current system of educational assessments.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Laurene Christensen published on November 10, 2010 2:06 PM.

Universal Design for Assessment was the previous entry in this blog.

What universal design is NOT is the next entry in this blog.

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