Driving High-Tech Assessment

Solutions for providing quality assessments and data to educators and the community top the list for this Maryland deputy superintendent.

John Q. Porter is deputy superintendent of Strategic Technologies and Accountability for Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, MD. The district, located northwest of Washington, DC, has a diverse student population of more than 140,000 students. In June, Porter was named School CIO of the Year by Public CIO magazine and SchoolNet (www.schoolnet.com).

Automated assessments
Teachers need to better identify individual student performance and needs, enabling them to target specific instructional interventions and appropriate resources in a timely manner. Automated assessments allow teachers to efficiently collect this data while not wasting valuable instructional time. We would like to have a series of automated assessments for the core curriculum areas in grades K-12.
Wireless Generation & NWEA
We recently collaborated with Wireless Generation (www.wirelessgeneration.com) to create a reading assessment for grades K-2 that efficiently collects assessment data using handhelds, while students in grades 3-8 are using a computer adaptive assessment from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA; www.nwea.org) that is delivered via desktop computers. Data from these automated assessments enable educators to view an up-to-date snapshot of the academic performance of each student, class, and grade level.
Tablet PCs
A mobile PC that facilitates expedient data access and data input allows our community superintendents and principals to facilitate more effective discussions with each other and with teachers. Tablet PCs offer great portability of data for our staff who travel between schools, and for our principals as they walk through their buildings.
The Gateway (www.gateway.com) tablet PC has a large screen and an integral CD/DVD, so it is an easier device for our users to transition to from a laptop.
Electronic gradebook
An electronic gradebook enables the standardization of grading and reporting across our district, in support of the district's revised grading and reporting policy. Having one system that can be used by all teachers eliminates the need for multiple gradebooks and streamlines the technology infrastructure. The system automatically generates report cards, both traditional and the new standards-based report cards that we are moving toward. Additionally, it enables attendance record-keeping to be better automated.
We chose Excelsior Software's (www.excelsiorsoftware.com) Pinnacle Plus because it handles standards-based and traditional report cards, as well as offers a Web-based solution so teachers can access the application from home. It also allows an interface with the automated assessments that we have already begun implementing throughout our district.
Parent outreach & communication
Electronic communication gives parents access to information such as classroom assignments, grades, and other classroom and school information via any computer with Internet connectivity. Parents can easily monitor classroom assignments and instruction, and identify issues long before quarterly grades are printed on report cards or results from high-stakes yearly assessments are received.
Edline (www.edline.com) has a unique solution that focuses entirely on school-to-home communication. Other systems appeared to have fewer features and were not sufficiently flexible to support and facilitate the menu of data and services we will be making accessible to parents.
Professional development
With a district as large as ours, we have a need for a centralized, comprehensive system for maintaining, tracking, monitoring, and reporting professional development information for our faculty and staff. This system empowers staff with the information and tools to manage their own professional growth, while providing a mechanism to correlate student and professional development data.
TrueNorthLogic (www.truenorthlogic.com) provides a versatile online tool that can be used to manage course enrollment; maintain and monitor information regarding certification, highly qualified status, and professional development; and combine online assessment, alignment, and reporting functions that work with any training program, standard, or assessment tool that can be used to evaluate both teachers and students. Additionally, staff can select from a list of pre-formatted assessments or create a customized assessment on their own.

To submit your own Wishlist/Shortlist, e-mail [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.