The following is a text transcript of the Is Your Technology Ready for the Common Core Assessments Webinar on December 2013 as presented by California Department of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, and San Juan Unified.
Welcome to the "Is Your Technology Ready for the Common Core Assessments" Webinar. My name is Cindy Kazanis; I'm the director of the Educational Data Management Division. We will be responding to questions so those of you that are logged in on the site and have your names listed and e-mail addresses, that's a great way for us to get back to you after the Webinar is concluded. This Webinar should last approximately an hour. We're going to switch between a couple of different presentations so there will be a couple of pauses during the Webinar for you to be aware of.
To begin with, the purpose of this Webinar, we've done actually I think this is the fourth or fifth in a series to help LEAs prepare for the Smarter Balanced Assessments by making sure you have the proper tools to not only complete the Technology Readiness Tool but also to make sure that you have an understanding of what is available through the assessments and how you need to prepare for them. Today's Webinar is a bit unique; we've brought in two outside individuals who we think are leaders in the field, especially in the Sacramento area if not statewide. One from a county perspective and one from a local perspective. So I am going to go into this slide next and explain who they are, but before that, I want to give a just a bit of a disclaimer. The Department in no way has discussed about preferences of purchasing devices or how LEAs (local educational agencies) should approach the readiness when it comes to the procurement of tools. What you will hear today are some suggestions and on how it has worked for certain districts and county offices. It will give you an opportunity again I think to question these individuals on why this worked for them and what kind of process they did to go through to make sure they are purchasing the right tools to make sure they are appropriate approval processes.
With that I would like to introduce our two presenters, or rather you would hear from them shortly, our two presenters or rather John Fleishman, who is an Assistant Superintendent of Technology Services, from Sacramento County Office of Education and Carl Fahle, Senior Director of Technology Services, from San Juan Unified School District. Before we bring both of them on to talk about what they have been doing to get ready for Smarter Balanced were goanna just walk through a couple of background slides on where we are on how we go to where we are and the legislation that brought us to this place I am going to turn this over to Jose Ortega who is the administrator for the Education Technology Office.
Good afternoon everyone.
To set the stage now for our presenters. Assembly Bill (AB) 484 establishes a new student assessment system for California Measurement of Academic Performance, also referred to as CalMAPP. This is what is causing us to have this conversation today and in preparation for this system. There is an awful lot of preparation that is going to take place not only for assessments but for the technology and for how we are to prepare not only the field test but also for the ongoing assessments. The intent is to provide for full funding for all Smarter Balanced assessment components for 2014-15 and beyond. It requires all the schools to participate in the Smarter Balanced field testing in spring 2014. Its requires a lot of preparation not only of the technology but also in the way that the folks in technology and the assessments and curriculum and instruction. There is an awful lot to prepare.
The Smarter Balanced spring 2014 Field Test is going to require the Smarter Balanced Field Test in ELA and math for students in grades 3-8. For students’ grade 11, 5 percent will take only the ELA or math and 1 performance task for 1 subject and 95 percent of students will take both ELA and math items and 1 performance task for 1 subject. Testing is conducted within assigned 6 week windows from March 18 through June 6, 2014. Most of you have or should have already received your assigned testing window. Approximately 3.5 hours in testing time. No student test scores will be reported. The purpose for further research and testing of items and test the systems. All-out test of technology needed to deliver the assessments. That’s what John and Carl will be speaking to us about. They are going to tell us exactly how they are going to do this.
John can you tell us a little more about this.
Absolutely. Let’s switch seats here. Thank you again. Thank you for the introduction Cindy. Again my name is John Fleischman and I am with the County Office of Education. I have been involved with SBAC in a couple of different levels I have been privileged to be a member of the Architectural Review Board. I work with Rodney Okamoto here at the Department I have a great deal of respect for. It’s a huge challenge in terms to designing the system and the underlying technology that’s involved. I have also been highly actively involved with CCSESA; the County Superintendents Association there is a subcommittee, known as Technology Telecommunications Subcommittee and leading some of the discussions among the county offices of education.
What I would like to cover today is kind a broader scope and drill down to the specifics that we are doing at the county office as it relates to implementation. Then Carl will be following up with a district perspective. I'd like to start with some of the challenges and issues from the 2013 pilot test of the system. I'd like to touch a little bit on the more salient points from the SBAC Technology Framework and Specifications document. The ones I think that are especially important for us here in California: A brief overview of the initial data collection for the Technology Readiness Tool (TRT)—touch on some of the ways that we are leveraging the TRT results both locally what we are doing in the county office, some of the ways I think is important in the state to statewide.
With that let me start with some of the challenges. Now let me preface this by saying I think overall the pilot test done this spring was amazingly successful and I think most schools, most agencies that were involved in the pilot test had a very positive and good experience. I spoke with about 20 different agencies got some information from schools in the Central Valley, Sacramento area, down south, and by no means a little disclaimer there at the bottom a very unscientific anecdotal review of the SBAC Scientific Pilot Test.
I'd like to share some of my perspective in terms of some of the interface and design issues related to the system which we need to be aware of, many of which have been resolved or will be resolved by SBAC. Some of the issues that rose to the surface like network connectivity, computer hardware, and the, all important, technical support.
Let me start first of all with the design issues. Those of you that are involved with any type of Web development know how challenging it is to build this type of system. Some of the frustrations that were expressed by some of those that were involved in the original pilot test was the lack of full Word processer functionality within the delivery system. The inability of the browser to do cut, paste, undo, select all, highlighting, the inability to highlight text.
Another one of the issues, again, because its different trying to replicate all the kinds of things, you’re not going to be able to replicate efficiently, developing with this kind of interface something like some of the big corporations. Some definite issues with scrolling, dragging, dropping on computers without mouse controls, especially Netbooks.
This perhaps is less of an issue and I think certainly kids going to take right to this the manipulation of media -- when the full system is implemented, some of the abilities to control pause, rewind, manipulating. Some of the learners the pilot test found that rather challenging.
This is an interesting one and I have seen some of the comments on some of the Listservs. The variables between screen sizes. We are all aware now that the real estate, the screen size of the test is very important. Those that are using Ipads, its necessary to have a keyboard preferably the hard wired keyboard, but there certainly is variables that were that I talking with some folks, challenges between the small screen delivery system a 10 inch screen versus a large 21 inch large screen display. It’s just an example, you can see the display a small screen required more scrolling to reveal the content, more manipulation by the user, with the large screen it was kind of interesting some of the users timed out when there was no interactions with the content because the reading selection was displayed in its entirety there on the screen. Again I've talked with Smarter Balanced these kinds of issues may have already been addressed in some fashion.
This is an issue and I just saw a post on SETPA Listserve the other day. The ability to adjust audio is a concern. Once they are in the dedicated browser you need to step back out of that browser in order to adjust the volume control on the headset. That this potential interface design issue that may or may not be addressed.
In terms of computer hardware, the challenges were with classrooms that had multiple computer names, makes, and models. Certainly frustrating to teachers where they didn’t have tech support that of course is the reality within many of our schools. Many of us have computers going back 8, 9, 10 years even more years. Hopefully, now there are some of the issues where two computers are being resolved and we are certainly hearing here on this Webinar significant purchases bring made with the one-time Common Core dollars.
In terms of network connectivity, we are so blessed here in California to have the K-12 HSN. The High Speed Network that’s administered out of Imperial County Office of Education. It’s been around for about 10 years. What that network does it provides us with real solid backbone that connects all county offices and some other large school districts. I believe there are about 72 total nodes on the network. The network is actually the envy of many other states because of how robust it is. Internet is purchased in quantity. There is one buy for internet services over the network. Things begin to break down, is once the connectivity goes to districts to school sites that’s some of the feedback that came on the network connectivity. I will get into some numbers in just a minute.
Where some of the inconsistency with school sites connectivity. How those are connected. Clearly some schools that rely on wireless access point either inadequate access point or underpowered ones. Certainly was something that was shown during the pilot test of an issue for some schools. Again only some schools.
One of the significant issues, which we probably are all gonna be dealing with, is the technical support issues. We cannot expect test proctors to be both efficient in delivering the assessment and to have the necessary technical skills. For many of our schools we simply don’t have enough technical support. When testing is going on in multiple locations in a single district. Unfortunately those support technicians can't clone themselves. That’s going to be, could be, a potential challenge in the districts.
Spacing in the computer labs. I never really thought about this and perhaps it’s less important than in the older days when every student, in the old days. I am already referring to things as the old days when every student basically received the same test during about the student looking over the shoulders this is a computer adaptive test. Theoretically all the test items come from an item bank and note no two students will see the same item at any one time. It’s probably less of a concern. Certainly many of the schools I've been in they have been tightly packed around 25, 30 computers in the lab that seemed to be an issue that some were concerned about.
Things like this, login process was a challenging for some. That could certainly be addressed. I know that for others you can come up with solutions obviously there is a unique ID for each student that’s going to be required.
This other issue many are gearing up for this. The little guys. The little ones don’t have the necessary keyboarding skills. Again with some of the Listserve I seen a lot of discussions going on what kind of software would you use. There is much more awareness now of increasing keyboarding skills, especially among the little ones.
Those are some of the issues that surfaced in terms of the pilot test. Many of those are resolved. Like I said its very anecdotal many schools had a very, very positive most schools had a positive experience and some are figuring out ways to address some of these issues. One of the cornerstone documents, I think for information about what is necessary to have for delivering the system, is included in the SBAC document "Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications." Jose and Cindy have talked about this document and Rodney in previous Webcasts, but to me this is really the Bible because it really calls for the specific minimum requirements. Also talks about and identifies the ideal kind of environment hardware software bandwidth requirements and there is other information in the guide. There is a full guide, there is an executive summary as well, and then for top level administrators there is a handout with nice icons and graphics that’s good. You certainly want to make sure the top administrators in districts at the very least look at the surface document to get the basic information that is required. This document has been updated several times. The most recent update was February 6. Be sure to look at this document. If you have not already seen that.
The biggest concern for me is bandwidth. I think most districts are in pretty good shape. According to some of the data that has come back in from k12-HSN Data Link. We still have a significant number of schools out there with a T1. Fortunately most districts have relatively robust connections. If you look in the Frameworks Specifications document I think this is the important caveat "a school that implements only the minimum specifications (e.g. bandwidth and computers) will be able to implement SBAC successfully, the individual testing experience for any particular student may have periods of slowness during which the computer experienced brief moments of data lag or delay, which will not disable the exam, but will merely result in the system taking a few additional seconds to capture student responses and render the next question or item.
To me it is about connectivity. In the best possible of all worlds we would have the minimum of 100 megabits to every school in California. You may have seen in the press the other day Facebook and Gates Foundations Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have contributed I think it was 6 million and 9 million dollars to the Education Super Highway because they also realize the importance and as most of you know as well this discussion is going on at the federal level is called e-rate and its potential is significantly upgrading funds with the presidents goals of having a minimum of having a 100 megabit. I think that’s something we need to strive for. If you look at this chart sure SBAC says 10 to 20 Kilobits per second per student required for the test. When they first launch it will jump up. Just figure 100 students you’re going to be testing simultaneously is 1000 Kilobits per second or 1 megabit per second. A T1 is 1.54 megabit, but how many T1's are being nailed to the limit all day long doing student information systems, doing instructional systems other use going on. That’s certainly a concern for those schools on the lower spectrum. I think these schools need to look very carefully. Very carefully, at what their current bandwidth utilization is and what they need to plan for. Go ahead and work out the numbers this is something that is especially important the number of students that will be simultaneously tested. Again I would give a little bit more headroom at 10 Kilobits per second per student. That is something certainly you need to be very aware of that.
The Technology Readiness Tool it’s a little disheartening to me that we do not have a real strong response. I'm well aware of the reasons, everybody is out there being a technical person for the county office I understand the difficulty that places to go and inventory the machines. If you do not have an automated system to look at devices to test, to do the detailed work of network infrastructure, to look carefully to assessments, where we are with staff and personnel readiness; honestly many schools say well, I don't have the time, I know we're not going to have a problem, but the bottom line is its very difficult to get where you need to be if you don’t know where you currently are. I think it’s a valuable tool. I think seeing the Department has done a great job promoting it. I would urge you if have not completed the Technology Readiness Tool to go in and enter the data. There three remaining extraction windows. There is one this Friday coming up real fast. There’s one on June 13, of next year and the final one will be August 18. I will get to a few slides on why I think this important. How I have used the data at the county office of education. Why I think it’s especially important with policy makers and legislators. The ones who are allocating dollars for our important needs. It’s not just what happens locally, and it’s a tool for you locally, but it is also incredibly valuable that data, decisions are made by data and we just don’t have enough detailed information at this point and time.
The first survey was done back in the spring 2012. It was used as baseline data point for SBAC development. Based upon this information and that initial survey that was done here in California. We actually had a reasonable response. I believe it was up to 42 or 43 percent, which is pretty good. That was used as a baseline which is now, a year and a half ago. A period of time. The more recent data collections and reports are useful for developing your planning process within the district. It’s really nice to have this one-time Common Core dollars. As Carl and I were talking earlier; you need to create awareness of your administration. Technology is not a one-time investment there’s total cost of ownership here and as I think through this process we can create greater awareness.
The initial survey that was done this is one of the things that jumped out to me. 614,000 devices were entered into the system. If you look at those numbers, Windows XP – 52 percent. No surprise there, but as most of you know as well, Microsoft will not be supporting XP after April 2014. Now the assessment will still be able to be delivered using Microsoft XP, I believe it will be extended out another full year. It won’t be problematic on that. Certainly a couple years down the road those machines will clearly need to be upgraded. Then with bandwidth on the initial survey were identified at about 15 percent at 2 megabits per second or less. Around a T1 or less. As I said earlier that’s self-reported data. I believe the k12-HSN has identified about 700 sites that have T1 or less. Those would be a real concern.
This one jumped out to me, lots of different data its very useful information but this one, Staff and Personnel Issues: Having a Sufficient Number of Technology Support Staff to Support Online Testing. Little chart there you can see the 10 point scale but basically it boils down to about 63 percent are concerned that they do not have adequate technology support staff. Something you should certainly think about and how you can leverage or scale support which may include more training for frontline assessments to deal with assessors to deal with real initial kinds of problems so tiered tech support. I think it’s going to be very, very important.
Why is it important and useful to complete the TRT? I have found it very useful to help get the communication going at the local level to leverage that information to help make better decisions about expenditures. Again, in just informally, talking with some of my peer’s one time Common Core dollars are being spread awfully thin and certainly you have a lot of needs for those many competing purposes and that gives you more of an argument internally to address some of the concerns. On a larger scale, though it’s the aggregated data for state policy and funding. That’s really going to I believe if we get a better completion rate, give us better information to inform the policy makers.
At the local level I used to, we're again the county office, so we do not do a lot of direct student instruction, and we have community schools, we have court schools, upwards of about 1,000 students during the year. About 9 years ago I was given a significant chunk of money in lottery dollars. The majority of our devices are now 9 years old. Hardly a week does not go by where I have a failure, were cannibalizing parts, we got the kids in juvenile hall destroying the machines it’s a constant challenge. Keeping things going. We decided a couple of years ago to go with virtualizing our data center, now we are virtualizing the desktop, frankly we think it’s the perfect solution for our assessment situation. We can quickly reposition those devices to many different locations, we reset these devices on a daily basis. What the information and by us completing the TRT allowed us or me to use the information with our managers and to accelerate the VDI rollout. It’s been very useful for me to be at the Sacramento County Office of Education to help inform our cabinet members on the importance of adding adequate devices for administering SBAC assessments.
Then at the state level fortunately we are in a good position. Here it’s looking kind of bright. After 5, 6 years now of the economy being very depressed. Weeks ago the Legislative Analyst Office came out with California fiscal outlook and its looking promising. Now everyone is going to be at the trough looking and the governor’s going to be debating which way to go, but clearly if we had broader information more reliable information on a broader basis, we know we have problems with last mile connectivity. We know there is still going to be a shortage of appropriate devices and without question adequate devices and technical support. I would propose to you that if we get greater completion, better information we can increase at least get at least a 50 percent response. I think we stand at 18 percent right now we stand a little bit above that in terms of TRT. We can use that data to inform policy makers. Perhaps another one time funding, we know that’s not going to solve all of our problems or maybe we can convince policy makers that a good investment would be to chip in and lets really move to 100 megabits per second connection for every school. To me that is very valuable information. I think would be extremely useful to us.
At that point I am going to turn it back to Jose who will switch the slide back.
John may I ask that you speak briefly talk about how you collect the TRT information for your county office of education. You spoke briefly about on the collection of TRT in how that might have an impact on the state as a whole. How does the TRT information, that you look at, on the overall county school districts and what does that mean to your county office. What do you look at the schools districts within your county what does that mean to your office and are there impacts to what you do and are there services you provide at a county office of education.
Absolutely, one of the things we do at the Sacramento County Office of Education is we maintain a separate high band, high speed network, basically for Sacramento County. All of the districts are connected to us through a fiber-optic network courtesy of our basically local cable companies. We have leveraged our cable franchise agreement. High speed connections out to all of our districts. They in turn provide connectivity to or back to our school sites. We are able to use that data and assess and monitor that network at all times. For example, Carl just a couple a weeks ago, called and said John my gigabit connection is getting relatively impacted. I have been working internally here and we are now part of the information now comes back from the assessment process also other information that we are taking this information to leveraging a 10 giga/megabit connection for San Juan.
Similarly, with this information we are able to monitor traffic. Again we think that is the foundation of delivery of the system or assessments. We need to remember that as we move towards Smarter Balanced that system may break down at any point from the classroom, to the district, to the county office. Fortunately, we have this strong backbone, the TRT information is valuable to us to have a better picture to where the potential problems are.
Thank you John. Thank you so much. We are going to move on now to Carl.
Really what I am going to share this afternoon is a story of one school district’s efforts to prepare for the Smarter Balanced online assessments, but really within a larger context, of our staying focused on what our instructional priorities are.
I am the Senior Director of Technology, at San Juan Unified School District, were a large district that serves the northeast area of Sacramento County. Approximately, 80 square miles, 70 schools, 9 cities, and about 40,000 students.
Our district had a community developed strategic plan that we developed a number of years ago, that really creates the foundation.
We were just providing a good example of what it could be like in the classroom without sufficient preparation of online testing. I'm just teasing, of course I think we have audio and we are back on so, I will continue where I left off. I was talking about how again our rollout for preparation of Smarter Balanced is really framed from the context of our district strategic plan, framed from the context of student learning and empowering teacher opportunities being really, a big framework from what we are doing.
San Juan has been actually dabbling in online computer adaptive assessments as far back as 2005, we partnered with NWEA Northwest Evolution Association who have Measured of an Academic Progress System that was computer based and has grown a little bit over the years it was really last year the 2012-13 school year were we in preparation for Smarter Balanced in part really decided to do a broader pilot of the assessments system throughout more of the school so half or a little less of the school participated in this online Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment. It was a voluntary participation it really includes a lot of self-assessment to determine whether or not they had to internal capacity in terms of the staff who would be able to support it or to feel comfortable and also in terms of self-evaluation of the technology they had available to participate in the pilot at all. Of course that really provided a lot of information to inform us in terms of taking an initiative to do a district-wide rollout of this online assessment for the current school year we have done. We are actually in the second session of our interim assessment.
We brought forward this initiative Bridging START to Smarter Balanced Assessments and we really brought it forward from two key instructional objectives. The first was to we wanted to implement a system-wide interim/formative assessment system to support the district’s strategic plan and key learning objectives and the second piece was to ensure adequate infrastructure and computing devices necessary to support and again you’re not going to see Smarter Balanced here, but you are going to see digital literacy and other computer-assisted learning experiences identified with the Common Core. Really the driver is about formative assessment and about for the Common Core 21st century learning.
Now we did have some additional pieces we wanted to look at and this is what we call our stress test, and really a big part of this was providing an opportunity for the entire San Juan community staff, students, parents, and administration to really have the opportunity to experience online computer adaptive assessment across the system. What we knew was that we were going to have more stresses in the system, just beyond the computing devices and our network infrastructure, and our pipes out to the internet. We knew a lot of the stress would be into terms of human capacity, human comfort, and so that was a really big part of our goal.
Last year we went forward, in the spring to the Board of Education, basically with plans to roll out our online assessments, NWEA, district-wide, and leveraging the information that we got back from the Technology Readiness Tool to help us ask for and make recommendations on the hardware that we thought would be supportable for this assessment.
On the screen you have before you some of the data we got back after doing the first assessment from the Technology Readiness Tool. I just want to point out a couple of pieces of information here. We did have about 55 percent half of the district computing devices met the minimum requirements, but you will see one percent of the devices the recommended requirements. When you go down to our eligible test takers, who could be testing on existing devices, it’s a little more than half eligible on the minimum requirements but only about three percent eligible test takers would be testing on regular devices based on recommended requirements. Clearly, we saw a huge gap in terms of our capacity with computing devices from when we did this assessment on the Technology Readiness Tool to where we are now. This is important data and it was data that we actually used when we to administration, when we went to cabinet, when we went to the Board of Education. I think that is key.
In terms of our strategic decision, the instructional requirements, I eluded to earlier, really we wanted technology to support Common Core, 21st Century application of technology. We were really looking at this idea of flexible, simple, reliable, integrated, and transportable. As we started thinking about where would we like to invest our energy, where would we like to invest our money, what types of technology would it be hard wired, would we be building out the labs or would we be looking at wireless connectivity or wireless devices and really the driver for this was really looking at the trends in the world. Where are we going in the terms of students accessing information? Well they pull it out of their pocket. When they’re at home when they are sitting on the couch with their tablet. Otherwise, we really became clear and evident that if we are talking about technology being transparent within the classroom and supportive that wireless connectivity offers the greatest flexibility and the greatest opportunities and plus it really addresses a lot of the heavy duty logistics around having one or two spaces around in the campus or lab or other and then trying to schedule that and use it. The decision was laid to really focus on an approach that focused on really reliable, comprehensive infrastructure.
With this we obviously have to think about professional development. I was thinking about the people who joined the conference this afternoon and I was wondering what percentage of the folks on that call are technology folks and what percentage are from the teaching and learning part side of the house. I really want to be very clear that we did this initiative with in absolute partnership with our teaching and learning department. This was not a technology services initiative. It was a collaborative. Doctor Donna O’Neil, the Director of Assessments, Evaluation and Planning at San Juan. She and her team were instrumental in leading this effort and being part of that conversation and I really think it is important to call out for everybody who is looking at this have to get buy in and ownership, from your teaching and learning, curriculum department, and not just technology being the ones looking at this information for its being critical.
Moving through professional development support one of the pieces I want to call out on this slide here is the fact that when we started doing the preliminary training on our district rollout on the MAP assessment. We wanted to do more than just make sure that our technology computer support staff knew how to help people with the hardware, we knew they needed to know how to help people once they were online and inside the environment. It is critical to educate everybody, not just on the computer device, but on the online environment and at the same time we work with our curriculum folks, our teaching and learning staff to make sure that they were familiar with the hardware that they were comfortable with the nuisances of how to refresh a cache, reboot a computer or what to do when a student presses a key and the whole screen turn sideways. It was really an overlap of training and knowledge and support. Very importantly ongoing, this is not one time training and say okay, we've done the training we are good. It’s really systemic on to where we are moving.
The other pieces that I think is really important and this was another conversation we had when we went to the board was that historically investment in hardware in technology would often come from a one-time fund and people would say ok here is your money, invest your equipment great you’re done, it will last for the next 100 years we won’t have to worry about it again. The reality is it’s just like your car, you know it requires maintenance. It’s going to eventually break down and you will have to repair it or replace it. When we made the decision to go with Chromebooks, we weren’t sure what quality these devices were, how long would they last. We went for a two year refresh cycle on those devices and because of the low cost that was significant in us making that decision, but that’s with the idea that this needs to be a sustainable model its needs to be an investment, it needs to be made just like you would invest for materials for paper, pencils, and books, on an annual basis. You were making an investment in the hardware in the infrastructure, professional development, that you would need to have ongoing not, just for the Smarter Balanced online assessment but really for transition to the Common Core, to digital literacy, and all the pieces that entails. That is a really important point when you have conversation at your funding decision level really talk about the fact that this cannot be one-time monies. Yeah that will get you started, but you really have to think systemically about how to keep this going.
Here we are going to talk about some things that we learned, I think the fist bullet, culture is king. Clear and consistent communication is key. San Juan is a pretty large enterprise, and we have people spread across a very wide region. We found out very clearly and I think most people would intuit this is that most schools and staff would have access to technology and used it previously were more comfortable, they had less issues at their school, part of those issues were really just the ability to do simple troubleshooting. Do I need to refresh the browser? Computing device, do I need to connect to the wireless. Those things come with experience. If you’re a school that’s had access, to technology staff has some internal capacity to deal with those. At the schools where there was not as much computer use the number of issues that we’ve dealt with were much higher, it was because of the lack of knowledge, lack of comfort, and the lack of the ability to really troubleshoot for those things. What we really found incredibly vital is communication, to the schools, communication to administration, and communication from administration to their staff, and keeping that open, of course we have leveraged some online technology to make sure that people can subscribe and be part of this communication, so they can really share collectively across the entire system the things that they have had troubles with the things where they have found a lot successes. Everybody’s a part of that online, social, networking, Smarter Balanced, environment to really share that work and that has been significant for us and again we have talked about others things we have learned some of the test taking strategies for example with a paper and pencil the strategy for teachers telling students if you get stuck just skip it come back to it later. Well on a computer based adaptive assessment that’s a strategy that is probably no longer appropriate or relevant. These are some shifts in terms of thinking in terms or approach, and those really come with an opportunity to participate online. You know Smarter Balanced will be or will happen one time a year but what is your plan in giving your staff and system an opportunity to practice and experience that throughout the course of the year. Because we are doing three times a year testing on the MAP and every time we do another assessment we find we have to go back in and do a lot of prep a lot of pre-training because you forget it. You forgot how do I log on, and what’s the command to do this, or how do I reset the computer. Whether you use interim assessments that will be available through the Smarter Balanced program or some other type of system that gives your staff practice, I think that is critically important to think about how you can implement something like that really getting folks, your students, your staff, your parents, your community, the use to doing this and comfortable, with the issues that will happen with technology much like our phone system going down, and how you are patient and you can work through it, they have to have those opportunities to practice. Very big important learning that I think you cannot over state enough.
At this point the last bullet there Technology Readiness Tool I am just going to re-emphasize that this information was very critical for us knowing what our capacity was internally, and in taking that data sharing with the community, sharing it with the board, sharing it with cabinet, so that they had a clear picture of where we are and where we needed to go and it provided, the rationale and support for how we needed to invest our funds. I would say if you have an opportunity absolutely take advantage of it because this is a very helpful tool. I think it can serve what you are trying to accomplish in a big way.
I am going to pass it back over to Jose.
Carl Thank you very much and John Thank you very much. We had a couple of questions come in and I wonder if either one of you or if you can take a look at some of these questions. Doris would you mind just taking a look at some of these questions, maybe read off a couple of these questions and maybe you might want to, John and Carl, take a shot at these?
How are you funding the two year refresh for the Chromebooks?
That’s actually a great question actually a few years ago our Board of Education made a decision to set-aside some funds which they really call the strategic reserve funds for the district strategic plan but it was also within the context of knowing that the way we were moving with technology at obviously, funds to purchase and build out the infrastructure the purchase of devices was pretty significant. We had some funds available we did look at the cost to build out our computer labs and use computing devices in a hard wired infrastructure, and it turned out that the Chromebooks was the lowest cost device. We had some anxiety because of the connectivity to the wireless, because this was relatively a new device with kind of a risk, the good news is that we always had a plan to re-evaluate, on an annual basis. Whether Chromebooks are the appropriate technology to do that. We will every year look and say is this the right device to use for this, is a tablet more manageable and more cost effective now, multiple purpose for other instructional goals? In terms of the funding, it was some forward thinking decisions from our leadership that had some funds available to us, but now it will be part of the built in annual budget, and I think that is an important conversation to have, when I talked about the refresh that if districts are looking at this that we are going to throw some one time money at it, and then we will be good to go, you’re going to struggle with that moving forward. It’s much better to say here is the cost to provide the technology, build out the infrastructure might be a big one-time upfront cost but when you are talking about the computing devices you need to look at those as standard instructional material and really plan for an invest in that.
What VDI tool are you looking at using? Virtual desktops, we are using VM Ware. We have been happy with that, thus far.
I think we are right at the one hour allocation. Unfortunately, for Carl and John, I think our audience already knows now who you are and they can probably find you in the yellow pages. You probably can't hide now. They know where you live and they can find you, I'm sure.
If there are additional questions we are very happy that you were able to join us today. Unfortunately, we had a little bit of a power outage, but we were able to get through most of our presentation. We want to make one last pitch effort and John mentioned this that on December 13, we are going to have our next snapshot of the Technology Readiness Tool. On December 13, you have the entire day to try to get your data into the TRT and we want to make you aware of the next two dates Friday, June 13, 2014. Please place these dates on your calendar and Monday, August 18, 2014. Those are the dates of the Readiness Tool snapshots. We want to make you aware of some really good resources the firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not have a login, please send us an e-mail to join the e-mail list or if you lack a login send us an e-mail and we will be very happy to provide you a login. Also you see some Web pages CDE Technology Readiness Web page. There are a lot of resources there. Assembly Bill 484, Questions and Answers. A lot of resources, contact the Education Technology Office telephone number and e-mail address. This Webinar and PowerPoint presentations are going to be available on the CDE Website. An e-mail will be sent to all of the participants as soon as those presentations are archived and they become available. One more resource for you the support and information the ETS (Educational Testing Service), has created a technology center and they will be providing districts, support, outreach, information to testing coordinators and district technology coordinators , 2014 administration of the CalMAPP system. They will also be providing assistance to the Assessment and Technology Coordinator any questions related to the Field Test can be directed to the California Technical Assistance Center, they will be happy to provide assistance at 1-800-955-2954 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Again thank you very much Goodbye.