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New Technology Test Assessment - Outsell

New Technology Assessment Test: Can America Wait Until 2012?
by Laurence Bloom, Affiliate Analyst - Boston, Massachusetts

Starting in 2012, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) will for the first time measure technology literacy and proficiency among K-12 students on a national level. This new test, which underscores the need for students to compete globally in technology skills, will have a positive impact on the education system and publishers.

Important Details: Since there are no nationwide standards for technology achievement, and as technology skills among students becoming increasingly important, NAEP has awarded WestEd with a $1.9 million, 18-month contract to develop the framework for the 2012 NAEP Technological Literacy Assessment that defines and measures students' knowledge and skills in understanding important technological tools.

WestEd plans to collaborate with multiple groups, including but not limited to policy makers, education technology experts and groups, teachers, and employers to advise WestEd on the content and design of the assessment framework. Ultimately, NAEP's governing board will review and approve WestEd's framework sometime late next year and decide which grade level will be tested in 2012.

Implications: While the framework is slated to be approved by late next year, one has to wonder why it would take a further three years to actually implement the test to students. By all accounts, politicians and business leaders continue to echo concerns about the ability of the US educational system to teach appropriate technology skills in preparation for a competitive tech-centric global marketplace. Since NCLB (No Child Left Behind) has included language, developed by the Department of Education and ITSE, the International Society for Technology in Education, that requires students to be able to demonstrate technological literacy by the end of the eighth grade, it is still a bit curious why it has taken so long to implement national definitions and testing standards on technology literacy. In June 2007, ISTE released a revised edition of the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS) which contains specific proficiencies necessary for a student to be considered technologically literate. ISTE will no doubt be an important and influential contributor to WestEd's assessment exam framework.

Given these new national standards and a call for national testing, the new assessment exam framework will provide publishers with a new avenue for building revenue growth from districts and schools. The opportunity will likely become akin to the demand and spending for science assessment tests by the education community over the last few years. On the flip side, these new exams call into question the continued concerns that there are too many tests for students to take and that K-12 education experience is simply becoming one long series of tests.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether the newly elected President will have a different stance on additional testing. Senator Obama has indicated that he would like to improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college, while also focusing on science and technology readiness. Senator McCain has more generally characterized the status of preparing children as "deplorable" compared to other industrialized nations. (see Insights 24 July 2008, K-12 Education Agendas of Presidential Candidates Present Different Implications for Suppliers).

Given his opinion that American students are unprepared for the future compared to other countries, it is plausible to infer that Senator McCain would also be in favor of more rigorous technology teaching and testing in schools. All this said, while it's a long way from completion, publishers should continue to monitor the developments of the technology assessment framework, as it will certainly have an impact on future product development activities and revenue generating opportunities.

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