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CDE-Authored Technology Readiness Tool FAQs

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) authored by the California Department of Education (CDE) for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium's Technology Readiness Tool (TRT).
Recent Additions/Updates

What are the basic steps in completing the TRT? (Added 12-Aug-2013)

When is the next deadline to submit data? (Updated 03-Apr-2014)

Basics
  1. What is the Technology Readiness Tool (TRT)?
  2. How do I obtain a username and password to log onto the system?
  3. How do I get help using the system?
  4. What type of information is captured by the system?
  5. Why is it important to submit information into the system?
  6. How do I specify I am finished submitting information for a school?
  7. Is the survey mandatory or voluntary?
  8. When is the next deadline to submit data?
Counting Devices
  1. Are schools to count devices that are four years old or less based on the 2014 date of the last data collection window, or based on today’s availability?
  2. Should schools include new devices they intend to purchase (for example in the next few months) in the count?
  3. What is the best way to submit computer counts where computers are shared by multiple schools? In other words, if two schools in a district share a computer lab with a certain number of computers, how would the district submit the computer count for the two schools where the computers are physically located?
  4. How does a school count thin clients? For example, a school has a computer lab with 30 thin clients connected to a server. They log in using Windows Server 2008 and all applications and data are stored on the server rather than the individual machines. How do they indicate all machines are sharing the same specifications (processors and memory)? Marking the thin client as having the same memory and processor for each machine may give the impression that these are stand-alones and not used in a lab environment?
  5. How does a school enter a computer’s internal memory when it falls between two available options on the survey (e.g. computers that have nonstandard amounts of RAM in them, such as 1.5 GB rather than 1 or 2 GB)?
  6. The survey includes counts of tablets and mobile devices, among other types of devices. Should I consider these devices suitable for test administration purposes?
  7. How do I determine the assessment environment for a given device?
  8. I submitted device information prior to January 14, 2013. I noticed that the device operating system values have changed. Why has that occurred?
Network Infrastructure and School Readiness Survey Questions
  1. How do schools/districts with shared Internet access in a consortium with other schools/districts represent bandwidth in the survey? In some cases, this is a chunk of bandwidth that is shared by members of the consortium without an individual allocation per school/district. How should this data be collected and reported in the survey?
  2. How does a school identify if they have wired or wireless internal networks, and how do they indicate if they have both?
  3. How should I report my school’s bandwidth value?
  4. How do I determine the maximum number of simultaneous test takers?
  5. How do I determine the test taking window?
  6. How do I determine the number of test taking sessions per day?
  7. How can I use the simultaneous test takers, test taking window, and number of sessions per day fields to generate "what-if" scenarios?
File Import/Export
  1. Is there a file import option?
  2. How do I troubleshoot errors generated by the file import process?
  3. What causes the "incorrect number of tokens" error during the file import process?
  4. If a row has an error in a devices or school survey import file, will the valid records be processed?
  5. When I use the File Export feature to generate a CSV file, and I open the file using Microsoft Excel, the Local Organization Code field displays in scientific notation form. How do I work around this problem?
  6. When I use the Device File Import feature, the result is twice the number of devices specified in the import file. What happened?
User Accounts and Schools
  1. Do I need to add school names to the system?
  2. What do I do for listed schools that are closed or do not have students who will be tested?
  3. What do I do if a school is missing from the list?
  4. Does the district or the school use the system to submit information?
  5. What can I do if my school/district has not received an e-mail from the Technology Readiness Tool with my initial logon key?
  6. As the district Technology Readiness Tool administrator, is there a way to request that the tool resend the initial key to my school users? Some of the users in the pilot districts had their initial key e-mails delivered to their spam folders or were blocked.
  7. Is it possible to change a username in the system?
  8. Is there a tutorial or document that clearly shows the use of the tool for all phases of use?
  9. Will additional questions be added to future data collection windows and do you know what those questions will be?
  10. How do I fill out the survey for schools in my district in which students will not be tested or schools that are currently inactive or will be inactive in 2014?
  11. I am a district-level user, or a school-level user associated to multiple schools. How do I filter the devices listing for a specific school?
Reports
  1. Why does the Submission Status Report show "missing" for the school Submission Status even though I have marked schools as "complete?"
  2. Why does the Device Indicators report (under the Results & Indicators tab) display inaccurate information for the number and percentage of Devices Meeting All Minimum Requirements?

Q. What is the Technology Readiness Tool (TRT)?

A. The TRT is a Web-based system used to collect information on the technology at schools. This information is used to help prepare districts for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium computer adaptive assessments in 2014-15. The TRT is being used by all states in SBAC and PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) consortiums.

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Q. How do I obtain a username and password to log onto the system?

A. The California Department of Education (CDE) will create usernames for a single technology contact person at each district. An e-mail will be sent to the contact person when the username is created. The district contact person can create additional user accounts for other district-level or school-level personnel. Please send an e-mail to sbac-itreadiness@cde.ca.gov if you need assistance in identifying your district's contact person.

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Q. How do I get help using the system?

A. Please send an e-mail to sbac-itreadiness@cde.ca.gov.

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Q. What are the basic steps in completing the TRT?

A. The basic steps are 1) add devices, 2) answer school readiness survey questions, 3) mark the school as complete, and 4) view the reports. Reference the TRT Basic Steps page for more details.

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Q. Do I need to add school names to the system?

A. No, the CDE will load school names into the TRT database. Please do not edit any district or school information.

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Q. What do I do for listed schools that are closed or do not have students who will be tested?

A. Mark the school as "Inactive" using the Edit Organization function.

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Q. What do I do if a school is missing from the list?

A. Please send an e-mail to sbac-itreadiness@cde.ca.gov. Please do not add the school using the system.

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Q. Does the district or the school use the system to submit information?

A. Either the district can submit information on behalf of the schools, or the district can create school-level users to allow a given school to submit the information.

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Q. Why is it important to submit information into the system?

A. The information will help Smarter Balanced, the California Department of Education, districts, and schools make informed decisions about school readiness to administer the new assessments.

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Q. What type of information is captured by the system?

A. The main sections are: 1) computing devices, 2) network infrastructure, and 3) staff technology readiness. The Smarter Balanced TRT Parameters page has more details.

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Q. Is there a file import option?

A. Yes, the system has an option to load data using comma separated value (CSV) text files. Do not import Excel (XLS) files. Import file layouts are available to help create the files. In addition, the system has a "cloning" option where the number of computing devices with the same specifications can be specified.

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Q. How do I troubleshoot errors generated by the file import process?

A. The system will indicate the line number where the error occurred and a description of the error. Open the CSV file using a text editor, like Notepad, and compare the contents of the incorrect line to the import file layouts.

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Q. If a row has an error in a devices, or school survey, import file will the valid records be processed?

A. No records will be processed if the import file has one or more rows with an incorrect number of commas (or tokens). However if the import file has the correct number of commas, but one of the field values is invalid, all other valid rows will be processed.

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Q. What is the best way to submit computer counts where computers are shared by multiple schools? In other words, if two schools in a district share a computer lab with a certain number of computers, how would the district submit the computer count for the two schools where the computers are physically located?

A. It is recommended that you approach it from the perspective of how the computer usage would actually be shared during the assessment itself. If the shared lab of the two schools doesn't have enough computers to test all students during the assessment window, then the computers should be listed for only one school. From the district's perspective, it may not matter which school shows as having or not having the computers—the district "deficit" or need for more resources would be the same.

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Q. How does a school count thin clients? For example, a school has a computer lab with 30 thin clients connected to a server. They log in using Windows Server 2008 and all applications and data are stored on the server rather than the individual machines. How do they indicate all machines are sharing the same specifications (processors and memory)? Marking the thin client as having the same memory and processor for each machine may give the impression that these are stand-alones and not used in a lab environment?

A. Thin client devices should be entered with a Device Type of "Thin Client/VDI" with the Operating System, Processor, and Memory of the thin client server.

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Q. Are schools to count devices that are four years old or less based on the 2014 date of the last data collection window, or based on today’s availability?

A. Schools should count the devices they anticipate will be in use in 2014-15 and available for assessment purposes. Devices that will be surplused or removed from inventory before 2014 should not be counted.

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Q. Should schools include new devices they intend to purchase (for example in the next few months) in the count?

A. If a school is acquiring new devices by the end of the current data collection window then they should count them. If the school has a purchase order with the number of devices, specifications for the devices, and if they arrive by the end of the data collection window, then they are part of the current inventory. If they do not arrive or the school is not in possession of the devices by the end of the data collection window, then they are not part of the current inventory.

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Q. How do schools/districts with shared Internet access in a consortium with other schools/districts represent bandwidth in the survey? In some cases, this is a chunk of bandwidth that is shared by members of the consortium without an individual allocation per school/district. How should this data be collected and reported in the survey?

A. To represent the bandwidth in this situation, try to represent the actual bandwidth available to each specific school/district. Also, assume that all schools/districts in the consortium with the shared bandwidth are testing at the same time and drawing down a representative proportion of data traffic.

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Q. How does a school identify if they have wired or wireless internal networks, and how do they indicate if they have both?

A. For this data collection window, please select the slowest connection speed at the school.

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Q. What can I do if my school/district has not received an e-mail from the Technology Readiness Tool with my initial logon key?

A. First, be sure to check your email’s spam folder in case it may have been perceived as spam by your e-mail system. Also, be sure to “whitelist” e-mail from the domain @pearsonaidevelopment.com. To regenerate the e-mail, go to the TechReadinessTool sign in page, and select the Reset Password link. The username and email fields are your e-mail address. If the system cannot find your username/email, please send an e-mail to sbac-itreadiness@cde.ca.gov.

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Q. As the district Technology Readiness Tool administrator, is there a way to request that the tool resend the initial key to my school users? Some of the users in the pilot districts had their initial key e-mails delivered to their spam folders or were blocked.

A. To resend the e-mail to users, you can use the Password Reset functionality. Go to Setup/User Accounts and Permissions. Select the record(s) for the users who need to receive new e-mails. Click the Password Reset box and start tasks. Click the box next to each selected user and click Save. The user should get a new e-mail.

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Q. How should I report my school’s bandwidth value?

A. The value should accurately represent how much download bandwidth will be available during the testing window since the primary concern is the bandwidth necessary to download multimedia content associated with test items. Schools should enter a value for download bandwidth that represents the typical worst-case amount available during testing. It is understood that this is an approximation so round to the nearest speed available in the dropdown menu. The K-12 Internet Broadband Speed Test External link opens in new window or tab. can help estimate the Internet connection speed to the school.

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Q. Is it possible to change a username in the system?

A. The username cannot be changed, but you can disable the account with the incorrect username so you can add a new user with the correct username. To disable a user account, go to Setup/User Accounts and Permissions. Select the record(s) that should be disabled. Click the box next to Enable Users and Start Tasks. On the next page, change Enabled to Disabled and provide a reason. Another option is to change the e-mail address on the account and continue to use the username as assigned.

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Q. Is there a tutorial or document that clearly shows the use of the tool for all phases of use?

A. The California Department of Education (CDE) has prepared instructional videos and will continuously update these FAQs. The videos, FAQs, and other related information are available on the CDE IT Readiness Tool Web page. In addition, Pearson’s User Guide is currently being updated, and step-by-step instructions will be included in the update.

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Q. Will additional questions be added to future data collection windows and do you know what those questions will be?

A. The parameters requested will be refined as more information about the assessments become available and the specifications necessary are better defined over the next several years. Currently there are no additional data sets identified.

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Q. How does a school enter a computer’s internal memory when it falls between two available options on the survey (e.g. computers that have nonstandard amounts of RAM in them, such as 1.5 GB rather than 1 or 2 GB)?

A. Use the lower amount of 1 GB rather than 2 GB configuration.

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Q. How do I fill out the survey for schools in my district in which students will not be tested or schools that are currently inactive or will be inactive in 2014?

A. For those schools, mark the Inactive checkbox in the Organization record. Go to Setup, Organization Management, mark the checkbox next to the school, mark the checkbox next to Edit Organizations, and then mark Start Tasks.

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Q. The survey includes counts of tablets and mobile devices, among other types of devices. Should I consider these devices suitable for test administration purposes?

A. The minimum requirements and devices for test administration are available in the Smarter Balanced Strategy Framework and Testing Device Requirements External link opens in new window or tab. released in November 2013.

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Q. I am a district-level user, or a school-level user associated to multiple schools. How do I filter the devices listing for a specific school?

A. You can set the default district or school by selecting the district or school link located to the right of "Smarter Balanced" in the upper left corner of the page.

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Q. Is the survey mandatory or voluntary?

A. While use of the Technology Readiness Tool is voluntary, the information collected will be used by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to guide future decisions on the design and functionality of the new student assessment system. Also, California will use the information to identify districts and schools that may need technology-related assistance in implementing the future system. All Local Educational Agencies will be required to use the new SBAC student assessment system in 2014-15.

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Q. What causes the "incorrect number of tokens" error during the file import process?

A. The "incorrect number of tokens" error indicates the import file does not have the correct number of comma field delimiters on each line in the import file. You will also receive this error if you try to import an Excel spreadsheet file type (i.e., .xls, .xlsx) instead of a text file type (i.e., .csv, .txt). To troubleshoot further, open the import file using a text editor (i.e. Notepad), and compare the layout of the file to the file import layouts.

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Q. How do I determine the assessment environment for a given device?

A. The answer to this field is locally determined. For the purpose of the TRT, the decision of what constitutes an appropriate location is a local decision. The decision should take into account any applicable state laws and state or district policies regarding assessment logistics and security (such as whether students may take a test in a room where other student instruction or activity is also taking place). Additional consideration may need to be given to the physical placement and mobility of devices to be used for online testing. For example, a computer may be deemed unsuitable for testing if it is currently located in a classroom where instruction will occur during the test day, and the computer’s size and/or location may make it impractical to move to another location. Another example is a computer lab that cannot be reconfigured to allow an appropriate distance or visual barrier between computer monitors for test security, or the lab cannot be easily prepared to remove other access to information (such as instructional displays on the walls) that may inform student responses.

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Q. How do I determine the maximum number of simultaneous test takers?

A. The answer to this field is locally determined. Estimate the largest number of individual students taking the Mathematics and English Language Arts test, in all grades, in all concurrent test sessions (at any one time), and seated at a computer station during a specified period of time. This accounts for the number of students who are impacting load capacity on the Internet bandwidth.

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Q. How do I determine the test taking window?

A. The answer to this field is locally determined. Indicate the number of days that will be devoted to the administration of both, Mathematics and English Language Arts portion of the test that are within the last 12 weeks of instructional year in your district. It is not necessary to determine whether the test taking window is within the first part or last part of the 12 weeks. It is only necessary to estimate the number of days that will be used for testing.

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Q. How do I determine the number of test taking sessions per day?

A. The answer to estimate this field is locally determined. Similar to the maximum number of simultaneous test takers and length of testing window, determine how many separate and unique test sessions you will provide each day. For the purpose of the TRT, a test taking session is defined as the portion of time when a class of students is tested. For example, you may determine to provide one test session per day, multiple test sessions in the morning, or one test session in the morning and one in the afternoon, depending on available school and district resources.

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Q. How can I use the simultaneous test takers, test taking window, and number of sessions per day fields to generate "what-if" scenarios?

A. Once the "readiness" reports are available, these three data fields provide variations for maximum flexibility to create the best case testing scenario for schools and districts. By adjusting the number of simultaneous test takers, test taking window, and number of sessions per day, schools and districts will be able to determine the best use of their available resources such as computers, available Internet bandwidth, and staff.

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Q. When I use the File Export feature to generate a CSV file, and I open the file using Microsoft Excel, the Local Organization Code field displays in scientific notation form. How do I work around this problem?

A. Use Excel's Text Import Wizard so the Local Organization Code column can be set to a text format of Text (vs. General). Using a new Excel workbook, choose the Data tab, and then the From Text option to start the wizard. Make sure you resave the new workbook as a CSV file before re-importing into the TRT.

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Q. When I use the Device File Import feature, the result is twice the number of devices specified in the import file. What happened?

A. You may have chosen the "Append" option instead of the "Delete and replace" option when performing the import. If this is the case, simply reimport the file using the "Delete and replace" option.

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Q. Why does the Device Indicators report (under the Results & Indicators tab) display inaccurate information for the number and percentage of Devices Meeting All Minimum Requirements?

A. The reports under the Results & Indicators tab are generated as a batch process during non-business hours. That means if you submitted new or updated information during the day, the reports will not reflect the new/update data until the next day. Another possibility is device operating system information submitted prior to mid-January 2013 has been automatically changed to match up with Smarter Balanced minimum system requirements. Reference the FAQ "I submitted device information prior to mid-January 2013. I noticed that the device operating system values have changed."

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Q. Why does the Submission Status Report show "missing" for the school Submission Status even though I have marked schools as "complete?"

A. The reports under the Results & Indicators tab are generated as a batch process during non-business hours. The reports will be accurate on the following day. There is a timestamp above the "Submission Status Report" heading to indicate when the report was generated.

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Q. How do I specify I am finished submitting information for a school?

A. When you are finished submitting device information for a school, and you have completed the Readiness Survey Questions, go to the Mark Data Entry Complete section (under the Setup tab) for the school, and select "Yes" to the Data Entry Submitted and Eligible for Review question. However, information in the TRT may be updated anytime or as many times within the data collection cycle as necessary. Maintaining accurate and timely information in the TRT is a living process and not a singular event. The TRT Progress Reports can show how a school is improving in "readiness" as each data collection window passes.

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Q. I submitted device information prior to January 14, 2013. I noticed that the device operating system values have changed. Why has that occurred?

A. Since some of the Smarter Balanced minimum system requirements External link opens in new window or tab. do not align directly to existing TRT options, previously submitted Mac OS X 10.1-10.5, Linux, and Chrome devices will need to be updated to new operating system options before the Device Indicator report will be accurate. Similarly, devices with less than 512 MB of memory need to be updated to new memory options before the Device Indicator report will be accurate. Reference the Devices File Import Layout for specific information on the new operating system and memory options.

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Q. When is the next deadline to submit data?

A. The next "snapshot" will occur on Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:00pm. Thank you for taking the time to submit information that the consortium can use to drive future decisions.

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Related Content
Questions:   SBAC IT Readiness Coordinator | sbac-itreadiness@cde.ca.gov
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