As they work to balance instructional use with testing, schools typically fund technology measures with special levies based on annual property tax values.
Richfield Middle School seventh grader Jamille Jackson winces as she watches a video about the human digestion system during science class. (Sun staff photo by Andrew Wig)
The brand name answer sheets, which come covered with ovals to be filled in completely with a No. 2 pencil, were until recently the standard way to take a standardized test.
They are yet to be abandoned, however, as some educators are ditching online, computer based standardized testing and reverting to the lead and paper method as they wrestle with how best to use a finite resource.
Before achieving the one to one ideal, the network of cables, wires and routers in Richfield Schools would need to be overhauled.
"Do you know how much (standardized) testing we actually do?" Richfield Schools Supt. Robert Slotterback asked one inquirer. "We basically test students from September through April."
For testing or for teaching
With limited computer lab space, schools now face the challenge of striking a balance between using the technology for instructional purposes and for testing.
"Last year it was fierce," said Angela Dorendorf, assessment and evaluation technician for Richfield Schools, addressing the demand in her district's labs.
Richfield is opting for the old fashined method instead of online testing at most of its schools this spring. The Edina School District also switched back to pencil and paper for many MCA tests this year.
He said he uses three wireless devices daily a computer, a smartphone and an iPad and can connect only his computer to the building's network. He says he uses a cellular data plan for the other gadgets.
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The Bloomington School District, which unlike some of its neighbors is sticking mainly with online testing, has about 5,000 computers for a student population of 10,159, Weisser said.
That is what it would take to eliminate the computerized conflict between instruction and testing, says Steve Buettner, director of media and technology for the Edina School District.
This month, teachers are beginning to prepare students for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs).
"That is an issue," he said. "We heard that on a fairly regular basis because it does eat up those resources."
This year Eden Prairie middleschoolers each received iPads to use in school Nike Hyperdunk 2017 Kyrie Irving Ebay and take home. Next year, each high school student will be handed an 11 inch MacBook Air laptop computer, machines that will serve as the district's newest implement for standardized testing.
The new resources in Eden Prairie match an overall trend in education.
In Richfield, on top of national assessments and monthly graduation testing, each spring and fall brings three weeks of the online only Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing, a voluntary in house test that districts commonly use.
The Richfield district is still evaluating how much to request of its residents, who will be voting on a levy referendum of one sort or another for the third consecutive year. As Slotterback tries to woo them, part of his argument will come with an explanation of the district's technology infrastructure.
With the paper exams, instead of shuffling students in and out of the computer labs for weeks at a time and taking up valuable computer resources, the next round of MCA testing can now be finished in two days, freeing up the computers for instruction, Dorendorf said. The decision to embrace the old school method was the result of teacher feedback on computer policies.
"There are more and more teachers who want to do inventive things around technology," said John Weisser, director of technology at Bloomington Schools.
Even in Edina, where technology funding is more plentiful, Buettner notes a strain on computer labs. Nike Zoom Red
"I know that teachers often make complaints that they can't get into the labs for instruction because the lab is booked up for testing," Dorendorf said.
"I'm confident it's not going to be hard to explain where all the money goes," Slotterback said, noting the limitations Nike Lebron 10 Soldiers
Richfield gets most of its money for computers from a technology levy worth about $1.3 million annually, but the funding expires this year. Slotterback says he is confident he can make a compelling argument when the district asks voters this fall to renew the technology levy.
"You start seeing that there is a choke hold on the resource," he said, "unless every kid has a device."
the resources haven't caught up with the demand. Weisser, too, hears the common complaint that too many computer resources are being devoted to testing.
within his own office, which is attached to Richfield High School.
According to the industry standard, though, that is not enough. TIES, which provides technology services to many Minnesota public schools, recommends that districts make a one to one ratio their goal.
That scenario has also been the case at Eden Prairie High School, said Executive Director of Technology Josh Swanson, but that is changing.
As the evaluations migrate online, schools are finding less time to use the machines for actual instruction as computer labs become clogged with test takers.
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