Smarter Balanced & PARCC Will Support Tablets for Testing

EdTech / by

The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) and the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today issued future purchasing guidance designed to inform schools and districts on hardware and operating system specifications covering the vast majority of commercially available computers and tablets.

“Schools and districts make decisions each year about what types of hardware and software to purchase for instructional use, and they want to know that any devices acquired over the next two years will be compatible with the new assessments,” says Tony Alpert, chief operating officer of Smarter Balanced. “We are confident that new computers and tablets meeting these specifications will be Smarter Balanced-ready in 2014-15.”

Smarter Balance and PARCC support devices that have 1 GHz or faster processor, 1 GB RAM or greater, 9.5 inch or larger screen size, and 1024 x 768 or better screen resolution. This includes desktops, laptops, netbooks, thin clients, and tablets running on Windows 7, Mac 10.7, Linux, Chrome OS, Apple iOS, and Android 4.0.

Despite the big wave of 7 inch Android tablets hitting the global education market, the guidance only supports larger tablets, iPads in particular for future purchasing decisions among schools. The testing consortium that includes more than 40 member states will not support Windows XP, which gives some schools with older computers in labs an excuse to upgrade, says Getting Smart Founder Tom Vander Ark.

“Technology is key to PARCC states’ ability to develop and administer K-12, computer-based assessments that will deliver useful information quickly to determine whether students are on a pathway to college and career readiness,” says Wes Bruce, Indiana’s Chief Assessment Officer and Chair of the PARCC Technology Operational Working Group. “The specifications released today will help all states match their technology purchases with their needs for instructional use as well as support the types of innovative tasks and items that will be used to make up the PARCC assessment.”

Smarter Balanced and PARCC are working with the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) to develop data around a Technology Readiness Tool, to support states in next-generation assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards.

The full guidelines are available online:

2 Comments

Tom Nixon /

Interesting that they are recommending the 9.5 inch tablets only. So many school districts are looking very carefully at the 7-inch ones (due to cost and other issues). Probably good reasons for that including the need for students to be able to adequately read the screen for the assessments.

Tom Vander Ark /

Writing to text is emphasized by the Common Core. It’s hard enough to open two source docs and write a third on a laptop and near impossible on a big tab. As a result, the decision to support tabs will place some restrictions on item development. Adding tablets will enable some cool optional/additional touch-enabled items.