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NCSC, Breakthrough Technologies Unveil Alternate Assessment Platform

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) and Breakthrough Technologies have developed an online delivery platform for a new alternate assessment program for students with cognitive disabilities.

The NCSC has been developing a multi-state comprehensive assessment system for students with disabilities. The organization's long-term goal "is to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options," according to information on the NCSC's site.

To create the NCSC Open Source Alternative Assessment Platform, NCSC partnered with Breakthrough Technologies, a company that develops open-source software for K-12 assessments. The platform uses the TAO open-source test delivery system, which can run in a Web browser, without the need to download and install software on the local computer. Breakthrough Technologies also designed the system to ensure the security of test and scoring data, and to link student enrollment, administrator qualification and student demographic data functions with the test delivery platform, according to information from the company.

"We have worked tirelessly to push forward the use of open-source technologies in education since it provides a cost-effective, scalable and impactful way for organizations to teach and assess students," said Doug Wilson, managing partner of Breakthrough Technologies, in a prepared statement.

The NCSC's alternate assessment tests students' knowledge of math and English language arts Common Core State Standards for grades 3-8 and grade 11. It includes 30 to 35 items for each subject. Most of the items use selected-response, with one writing prompt per grade. This approach enables students with disabilities to use multiple modes of response. The platform supports either direct student input or teacher-entered responses.

Further information about the NCSC Open Source Alternative Assessment Platform can be found on Breakthrough Technologies' site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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