Monday, December 11, 2006

A Test That I Did Not Know About

Did you know that 8th graders take a test to measure what they know about technology? From the Spokane Spokesman-Review:

Greenacres Middle School student Jarod Maynes was a little apprehensive about taking yet another required test on Tuesday.

Maynes and all the other eighth-graders in the Central Valley School District took an online test this week to demonstrate how well they can use a computer.

"It's kind of stressful. It reminds me of the WASL. I would act differently on my own computer. I could figure it out, but not on a timed test," said Maynes.

One of the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is to ensure that all students are technologically literate by the time they finish the eighth grade "regardless of the student's race, ethnicity, gender, family income, geographic location or disability."

It's up to each state to come up with its own definition of "technology literacy."

In Washington, each of the 296 school districts is required to assess and report its eighth-graders' level of technology literacy.

Now I’m curious as to what my district does.

The rest of the article can be found by following the “Read here” link below.



Students' computer skills tested
Educators want assessments followed up with funding


Greenacres Middle School student Jarod Maynes was a little apprehensive about taking yet another required test on Tuesday.

Maynes and all the other eighth-graders in the Central Valley School District took an online test this week to demonstrate how well they can use a computer.

"It's kind of stressful. It reminds me of the WASL. I would act differently on my own computer. I could figure it out, but not on a timed test," said Maynes.

One of the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is to ensure that all students are technologically literate by the time they finish the eighth grade "regardless of the student's race, ethnicity, gender, family income, geographic location or disability."

It's up to each state to come up with its own definition of "technology literacy."

In Washington, each of the 296 school districts is required to assess and report its eighth-graders' level of technology literacy.

Dennis Small, educational technology program director for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the state worked with school districts and regional administrators to come up with Washington's definition of technology literacy as well as the three "Tiers of 8th Grade Technology Literacy Indicators," or the degree that a student uses technology. For example, tier one is personal use and communication; tier two is the ability to access, collect, manage, integrate and evaluate information, and tier three is the ability to solve problems.


The state doesn't require districts to report individual scores, only the number of students in each tier. Dick Burrill, supervisor of instructional technology for Central Valley, said that even though it's another hoop to jump through, the assessment will be helpful.

"It gives the district good data. We'll be able to see how we're doing as a district and where our students need to improve," said Burrill.

The Central Valley district paid a $5 license fee for each of its 1,010 eighth-graders to take the online test. The money comes out of the district's technology budget.

Burrill said many variables can affect students' technology literacy, including influences at home, their teachers, which school they attend and which district they're in.

"Each school (in the CV district) does their own budgeting for technology; different buildings have different equipment," said Burrill.

Districts can use stand-alone assessments like Central Valley, or other means, such as observation logs, examination of portfolios, certification tests and student surveys.

Barb Gilbert, director of instructional technology for Spokane Public Schools, said in January they will have their eighth-graders answer a survey based on the three tiers.

The district has a subscription to a survey program, so there won't be any additional costs.

Dan Butler, Mead School District's executive director of technical education, said the district won't have to spend additional money on an assessment because the district will use a program it already has.

"Technology isn't about learning different programs. I don't really care if the students can use an Excel spreadsheet. It's a tool and it's a changing tool," said Butler. "You can teach a first-grader how to do a Power Point presentation, but they won't be using that program by the time they're in the 10th grade," said Butler.

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