The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released an updated guide to technology requirements and recommendations for member states planning to implement the common-core assessment system the consortium is developing for the 2014-15 school year.
Under the framework, most schools should be able to implement the assessments, the organization says.
1. Move away from Windows XP (which is used by more than half of schools today) to Windows 7. Windows 8 might be acceptable, but further testing is needed. However, the assessments will work with Windows XP.
2. Upgrade computers to at least 1 gigabyte of internal memory. Most schools have already implemented this recommendation (63 percent, to be exact).
3. Ensure that all screens being used for the assessments have a visual display of no less than 9.5 inches, with at least a 1024 x 768 resolution. About 88 percent of schools have already met this recommendation. The assessments could work with an 8-inch screen, but 9.5 inches is the recommended width, the document says.
4. Student testing sites must operate on secure browsers. While data reports from the assessments can be accessed through Google Chrome, Safari on iOS, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 8, the organization will identify secure browsers each year that will be required for the actual test-taking. Those browsers will prevent students from being able to access anything except the exam.
5. The assessment requires about 5 to 10 kilobytes per second of bandwidth per student. The amount of bandwidth needed will depend on the specific assessments, some of which include animations, recorded audio, and other technology-enhanced items. Schools should estimate about 1 megabyte per second for every 100 students taking the assessment.
** Please note that the minimum and recommended specifications in the Technology Framework documents have been clarified as of 1/11/13.
- Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications Executive Summary (revised 2/6/13) (PDF)
- Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications (revised 2/6/13) (PDF)
- Hardware & Operating Systems Infographic (revised 2/6/13) (PDF)
- Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications Q&A (PDF)
- Bandwidth Check Instructions (PDF) and Online Tool. The bandwidth checker is compatible with Mozilla Firefox on computers with Windows, OS X, or Linux operating systems; Safari on tablets using the iOS operating system; and Chrome on tablets using the Android operating system. The bandwidth checker cannot be accessed using Internet Explorer.