Monday, February 24, 2014

Device-Agnostic State Assessments: Dream or Soon to Be Reality? TestNAV, iStation and iPads and/or Chromebooks

When will the state education agencies (SEA) stop telling school districts what equipment to use for state assessments and tutorials, and instead, ask, "What equipment do school districts have and how can we run our assessments/tutorials on that?" It's time for the tail to stop wagging the dog.

The SEA and/or whomever setups these contracts with assessment vendors needs to stop letting them tell us what hardware/software we need to support. Support HTML5, and you get iPads working. Eliminate Java, and it will work on both iPad and Chromebooks. Why aren't these assessments and tutorial software able to just be web-based?

Or put another way, when will SEAs SEE (pun intended) the possibilities of encouraging high stakes assessment vendors like Pearson to create products that work on devices such as Linux laptops/desktops, Chromebooks, iPads, mobile phones, etc.?

The time for device agnostic state assessments has come!

Toshiba CB30-A3120 - This is a great Chromebook. I really like the zippy processor, beautiful keyboard
reminiscent of a Macbook Air keyboard, trackpad, support for USB ethernet cable dongle or wireless, great
graphics and video viewing.
As iPads and Chromebooks begin to find their way in Texas classrooms, the question that arises is,
Will  iPads or Chromebooks suffice for state assessments (e.g. TestNAV) and/or tutorials (e.g.

The main reason for wanting to use these devices for assessments and tutorials is that they cost less than buying a desktop computer. For example, Chromebooks cost approximately <=$300 and, iPads, slightly more than that (view comparison chart). With the new versions of software, we might be able to escape the "tyranny of the lab," focus more on creativity and collaboration in the classroom.

Below, please find the responses resulting from information gleaned from conversations with colleagues in Texas.

The answers reported from Pearson are as follows:

  1. The current version of TestNAV that the Texas Education Agency uses (version 7) will NOT support the use of iPads and Chromebooks for assessments. From TEA: "TestNav 7 will not run on Chromebooks or Tablets.  TestNav 8 does indeed have come with apps for these devices, but Texas will be on TestNav 7 for the 2014-2015 school year.  The contract for testing is up in 2015, so will either have a new vendor and new software or will move to TestNav 8 if Pearson is selected."
  2. The latest version of TestNAV available (Version 8) DOES support iPads and Chromebooks. However, the Texas Education Agency's contract with Pearson is only for TestNAV 7. Moving from the current version 7 to version 8 involves a variety of factors that TEA must take into account.
  3. The main factors include the large bank of existing test questions and other content currently in version 7.
  4. The current contract which licenses TestNAV 7 expires after 2014-2015
  5. The earliest we would see Texas use TestNAV version 8 which supports iPads/Chromebooks is possibly 2015-2016.
In regards to iStation, here are some dates:

  • The iStation iPad app will be released in September 2014;
  • The iStation Chromebook app will be released in January 2015.
You can build this timeline using this information:

  • September 2014 - iStation for iPad
  • January 2015 - iStation for Chromebooks
  • 2014-2015 - Contract expires for TestNAV 7
  • 2015-2016 - TEA may possibly upgrade to TestNAV 8 and this version will support iPads and Chromebooks
Sources: Emails shared via TCEA TEC-SIG group. Texas Education Agency as quoted by Jennifer Bergland (TCEA), Pearson and iStation as quoted by Bryan Doyle (Tech Director) and Stuart Burt (Tech Director).

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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