ISTE Survey Shows Concerns Remain About Student Readiness for Online Testing

by | Aug 15, 2015 | News

Read more here.This July, more than 16,000 educators from all over the country attended the ISTE Conference and Expo in Philadelphia. A mix of teachers, technology and curriculum leaders, and superintendents came to learn about the latest and greatest innovations in education and to become inspired to use technology with their students.

At, we want to get a clear picture of the current issues that are facing today’s educators, so each year, we take the opportunity to survey booth visitors on what they’re thinking. This year’s survey focused on whether students have the digital literacy skills needed to show their academic proficiency on online assessments.

By the end of the conference, nearly 400 educators had responded to our survey. They were from large and small districts, representing urban, rural, and suburban districts. Just under 1/3 of the respondents were teachers, and about half were in roles responsible for their school’s technology or curriculum – a virtual cross-section of those who attended the conference.

All of the districts were using some sort of online assessment, with about 1/3 taking the PARCC, 1/4 taking Smarter Balanced, and the rest an alternative online assessment.

What We Found

We started by asking educators how well they thought their students were equipped with the digital literacy skills needed to succeed on online assessments. More than half said their students were just “adequately prepared” and another nearly 40% felt their students were “poorly equipped”. Only 13% said “well-equipped”.

What does that mean for our students? One significance is that they are hindered by their lack of skills for taking the assessment and may never have the chance to show what they really know.

When we asked for specific skill gaps that could negatively affect student performance on online assessments, 61% of the respondents said the number one gap was keyboarding.

The inability to keyboard has a direct impact on students’ ability to respond to constructed responses – most significantly on longer essays. This is especially concerning given the importance that computer-based testing methods are having as the means to assess ELA proficiency.

Charting data closely followed keyboarding as the skill most lacking by students. This has an impact on the Mathematics assessment, where students need to be able to interpret data and then apply that data to a chart, or vice versa.

Just these two key skills alone could dramatically affect students’ results on both Mathematics and ELA assessments.

When we explored what tools teachers would find most effective in making sure their students had the digital skills they needed, the consensus was for interactive instructional videos for students and assessment building tools for themselves. It’s clear they want to create their own item banks on which their students can practice. In addition to being able to create their own items, educators also wanted to have a ready-to-use digital literacy practice item bank and Keyboarding lessons for all ages.

Key Takeaways

Overall, our survey indicated that educators are aware of the digital skills gaps their students have and how this gap can negatively impact their students’ performance on online assessments. It also showed that they’re looking for classroom tools to help their students develop these skills.

These survey results confirm a foundation we’ve stood on for years: integrating digital literacy into instruction across all grade levels is critical in helping students concentrate on their subject-area learning and not their technology skills. As students progress in their learning and more is required of them academically, their digital literacy skills need to keep pace so they can confidently demonstrate their knowledge.

Interested in digital literacy solutions for your students? Read more here.

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