BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is responsible for developing a plan to transition the state of Texas' assessments of academic readiness, also known as the STARR exam, to be administered %100 percent online by 2022-23.
”It will be a challenge, you know, our students are traditionally used to paper, pencil testing, so moving to online testing for some students will be very simple, for other students, it will be quite the challenge,” said Brenda Krchnak, the Superintendent for Snook ISD.
Krchnak sees opportunities of success, but also difficulties with this transition.
This will not only require students to adapt to the changes, but also providing teachers with adequate training.
”What it requires, is for teachers, to begin teaching students, how to test online and that requires the availability of a lot of technology, and training,” Krchnak added.
Coincidentally the pandemic has allowed some of these school districts to put on training wheels, and prepare to strengthen their digital abilities.
”We’ve got a good start of that now with remote learning, and at home learning's, so I think unfortunately we’ve gone through a pandemic that’s required remote learning but, in the end, it may ease the stress of transitioning to online testing,” Krchnak said.
According to the vice president from fiber town data center, all the tools are their, it will just depend on internet connectivity when it comes down to it.
”I think the difficulties going to be, that the infrastructure is there, the communities are connected, it’s that last leg,” said Tony Froelich, Vice President and Business Unit Development Manger from FIBERTOWN Data Center.
The cost of maintaining these devices, providing staff training, and increasing the bandwidth is not a small ask.
”Any amount of money is a big ask for school districts, because were on a very slim budget, and we’ve made a huge upfront investment in one-to-one devices because of this remote learning,” said Krchnak.
According to the Texas Tribune, the TEA and State leaders have estimated school districts would need to contribute one-time payments, of about $4 million, to assist with connectivity, and $13.4 million annually, in support of staff training and expanding the bandwidth.