The Hidden Cost Of Common Core Testing In Tennessee: Computers

The PARCC test can be taken on many different devices, including an iPad. Though there are certain requirements, like having a separate keyboard. Credit: BSFinHull via Flickr

The PARCC test can be taken on many different devices, including an iPad. Though there are certain requirements, like having a separate keyboard. Credit: BSFinHull via Flickr

Tennessee school systems are beginning to realize just how many more computers they’ll need as standardized tests move online. And they’re complaining about a lack of state funding for the upgrade.

As public schools shift to Common Core standards, many are also moving to a new test intended to be taken on a computer called PARCC. The testing company recommends at least one device for every six to seven students.

The Tennessee Department of Education is conducting a survey to see how far some districts are from meeting at least the minimum requirements.

“The reality is in 2015, we need to have a computer for every six or seven kids in our schools anyway,” says Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “This just gives us something to shoot for.”

But it’s more complicated than that, according to some superintendents.

Mike Looney of Williamson County Schools says it’s not enough just to have computers for students to use during high-stakes testing. They need to be familiar with the device they’re using so it doesn’t become a distraction.

“I want to be sure that our students are using those tools on a daily basis,” he says. “One [computer] to six or seven [students] is not sufficient to do that.”

For an additional charge, pencil and paper tests will be available for the new PARCC test, though state education officials say it should be a last resort.

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