A New Frontier: Computer-Based Testing

The New York State Education Department is shifting gears to computer-based testing. This year, NYC’s fifth and eighth graders will be required to take their state tests – English, math, and science – on computers. In the 2024-25 school year, all fourth and sixth graders will make the transition to computer-based testing. By 2026, third and seventh graders will join them.

When schools were notified last Spring that this transition would start this year, Classical’s curriculum team jumped into action to initiate a plan. This involved first collaborating with leadership to ensure funding could be secured and devices obtained. The team took into consideration scholars’ current abilities typing with computers so we could adequately develop their skills. They identified units and lessons to weave technology into so that teachers could provide sufficient practice ahead of testing.

The team landed on a plan involving a gradual integration of device based-strategies into our preexisting curriculum, which up until now had been almost entirely paper-based. Scholars will first receive some basic training using an online typing program. This program, incorporated once per week to start, will essentially teach scholars to type, the traditional way. Application of this training will come from device-based assignments spread across the weeks and subjects of our curriculum. The percentage of device-based assignments will grow as the year progresses and the test dates get closer.

While there is emphasis on training scholars to type, our greater concern is ensuring their ability to apply the same thought processes and critical thinking skills to their work while navigating technology. The team has developed an execution guide to support both teachers and scholars in applying the skills and strategies they have been using for years to this new set up. Scholars will need to toggle between the computer screens to read texts, examine visuals, etc. and then transfer their ideas or problem solving onto a scrap piece of paper. The approach here, much like scholars’ time spent on the devices, will be gradual. There will be teacher modeling, templates to guide, scaffolded support, and continuous practice to ensure scholars feel ready to apply what they have learned in a new testing environment.

Scholars and teachers must be adequately prepared for this transition, and schools must also be equipped with working and reliable technology to ensure a smooth administration on testing days. In addition to the NYSED field test, happening in the Spring prior to the test, our team is developing contingency plans for all the “what ifs?” we can think of. We are forward thinking and considering what happens if we run into router issues or technology failures on the morning of the test. It could very well happen, and we know it is always best to be prepared – on all fronts. Furthermore, we plan to elicit periodic feedback from teachers as they are on the frontlines implementing these new execution guides and practices with scholars.

Through strategic planning, forward thinking, gradual implementation of changes, and feedback collection, Classical is hoping to make the transition to computer-based testing as smooth and successful as possible for scholars and teachers alike.



This post was contributed by Dr. Emmerson-Pace (Curriculum Manager) and Ms. Emanuele (Specials Project Manager). As a non-CMO charter network, we rely on the thoughts, opinions, and innovations of our staff to move our mission forward and provide an excellent academic option to families in the South Bronx. To hear more from our staff, check out the next post! Or, click here to learn more.


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