TEACHING Exceptional Children — Volume 41, Number 6
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Technology-Based Classroom Assessments: Alternatives to Testing
Spencer J. Salend

Ms. Locasio has been teaching her students about poetic devices. Using an interactive whiteboard, she reviewed the poetic devices they had learned so far and asked her students to use their wireless active responding clickers to rate their levels of understanding these poetic devices on a scale of 1 to 3. By reviewing her students’ responses, Ms. Locasio determined that the class was ready to proceed. She went on to identify and define several new poetic devices for the class. She played and simultaneously displayed the words of several well-known songs and poems on the interactive board and discussed the different poetic elements used. She highlighted the poetic elements within the different songs and poems with a stylus. Periodically, Ms. Locasio asked students to use their wireless clickers to respond to true/false questions about the poetic elements. The students also used their clickers to play a game that asked them to identify specific poetic devices used in various songs and poems. Based on a summary of the students’ answers, Ms. Locasio quickly assessed their overall understanding and determined which students were ready to start writing poems using the different elements. She also used individualized student response data to identify the specific poetic elements she needed to continue to teach some of her students.

As part of the districtwide curriculum related to the study of the solar system, Ms. Rodriguez’s class worked on a unit about the sun, the moon, and the planets. Before implementing the unit, Ms. Rodriguez and her teaching team collaborated to plan it. They discussed the curricular goals they wanted their students to master and created a menu of technology-based learning and performance assessment activities linked to their instructional goals. The menu of assessment activities included posting a Web page or wiki; giving a PowerPoint, Keynote, or Impress presentation; writing a blog; creating a podcast or a digital video; and completing a Webquest or a track about the unique characteristics of the sun, the moon, or a planet. Ms. Rodriguez shared the menu with her students, who each chose a strategy for sharing their learning from the list of activities. Ms. Rodriguez and her colleagues made sure that students selected appropriate activities; they also kept a record of students’ choices and encouraged them to try new activities.

While working on their assignments, students accessed instructional rubrics posted on the class’s Web site which Ms. Rodriguez had revised from a bank of rubrics she found online.

Mr. Shaw’s class includes Ronald, a student with significant cognitive disabilities.

Ronald’s individualized education program (IEP) specifies that his learning progress be measured via alternate assessments rather than statewide testing, so Mr. Shaw and the other educators work with Ronald to maintain a digital portfolio. When the class worked on measurement, Mr. Shaw used a digital camera, camcorder, and audio recorder to document Ronald engaged in various activities measuring ingredients for a recipe.

These audio and video recordings of Ronald were then downloaded into Ronald’s digital portfolio as evidence of his ability to engage in a variety of functional communication and academic skills aligned to statewide learning standards related to exploring formats for listening and viewing purposes, and using standard units of customary measurement. Ronald’s portfolio also included a digital observation of him interacting with his peers during an after-school extracurricular activity and a digital story of Ronald’s life, career preferences, and transitional goal —which Ronald helped create and shared with the members of his IEP team.

Although many teachers are using new technologies to differentiate instruction and administer tests (Parette, Wojcik, Peterson-Karlan, & Hourcade, 2005; S.

J. Thompson, Quenemoen, & Thurlow,

2006) , educators like Ms. Locasio, Ms. Rodriguez, and Mr. Shaw are also employing a range of technology-based resources and strategies to implement a variety of classroom assessments as alternatives to standardized and teacher-made testing. Technologybased classroom assessments focus on the use of technology by teachers and students to create learning products, promote their technology skills, and examine students’ strengths and challenges and the outcomes of daily classroom instructional and social activities (Salend, 2009).

Like all types of classroom assessments, technology-based assessments can link instruction to both formative and summative assessment (Chappuis & Chappuis, 2008; Tomlinson, 2008). In terms of formative assessment, they are particularly helpful and informative in monitoring the learning progress of students and making decisions about how to improve instructional programs.

With respect to summative assessment, they can be graded and aligned to IEP goals and curriculum learning standards as a culminating authentic activity to assess student mastery of specific content, topics, concepts and skills taught, and to communicate information about student performance to others.

A range of technology-based classroom assessments also are used to create alternate assessments aligned to statewide learning standards for students with disabilities who do not participate in statewide and districtwide high-stakes testing programs.

Recognizing that technology is transforming many aspects of teaching and learning, and offering innovative and motivating ways to document student learning that are adaptable to a range of students, this article provides educators with guidelines, strategies, and resources for implementing technology- based classroom assessments.

Although there is a wide range of possibilities and resources, educators should proceed gradually. As teachers, students, and family members become comfortable using the various technologies, additional features can be progressively introduced. Prior to using these technology resources, educators also should carefully evaluate each possibility in terms of ease of use, cost, design, options, navigability and accessibility (King-Sears & Evmenova, 2007; Salend, 2008). Educators also need to make sure that the technology is available to and appropriate for use by students, teachers, and families.

An essential consideration is whether using technology will facilitate the teaching, learning, and assessment processes without altering the classroom-based instruction, tasks, and skills that are being taught and assessed. For example, whereas writing a blog might be an appropriate activity for assessing a range of narrative writing skills, creating a digital presentation may not be an appropriate alternative means of fully assessing students’ narrative writing. Therefore, when determining whether to use technology to implement classroom assessments, it is important for teachers to consider certain specific questions (see box, “Factors to Consider in Using Technology to Implement Classroom Assessments”).

Each method of assessment discussed is accompanied by a box of Resources and Information.

Technology-Based Active Responding Systems (Clickers)

Ms. Locasio and other teachers are using a range of technology-based active responding systems—sometimes Referred to as clickers or classroom response systems—to make their classroom presentations more interactive, motivating, and effective, and to conduct real-time assessments of student learning (Barber & Njus, 2007; Bruff,

2007) . These wireless, infrared, or radio frequency systems allow teachers to monitor their students’ learning by having students periodically respond electronically to factual, computational, conceptual, and comprehension questions; probes and quizzes; interactive activities; and poll, opinion, and review questions (Beatty, Gerace, Leonard, & Dufresne, 2006; Jerome & Barbetta, 2005). Teachers using these systems have students answer multiple- choice questions, and predict the outcomes of readings, word problems, and science experiments. Individual student and classwide responses can be immediately tabulated and displayed so that teachers can use the data to guide their feedback and adjust their instruction accordingly. For example, during her lessons on poetic elements, Ms. Locasio checked her students’ understanding of key points by asking them to respond to her questions via their clickers, and then used these responses to determine which students were ready to proceed to the next activity and to target her teaching for students who needed additional instruction. Teachers also can make choices about whether to make the results available to students to provide them with prompt feedback.

These systems also allow students, especially those who are quiet or shy, to “silently” ask questions, and let teachers unobtrusively send responses or provide feedback to individuals or groups of students. Teachers also can use technology-based active responding systems to solicit feedback from students concerning their mastery of content presented in class and to involve students in academic learning games.

Digital Observations/Diaries

Digital observations, sometimes referred to as digital diaries, can document students’ academic performance and classroom-related behaviors.

Teachers and students can use digital camcorders and audio recorders to create visual and audio digital observations that contain recordings over time of students performing various learning activities and classroom routines, engaging in learning strategies, and interacting with others in a range of classroom situations. The digital observations, perhaps as a part of a digital student portfolio

• Can be viewed by educators, students, and families to note academic, social, and behavioral progress.

• Can identify the skills and behaviors that students have mastered and those in need of further instruction.

Digital observations also can help identify effective instructional strategies used by teachers and students and other classroom stimuli and events that affect student learning and behavior.

For example, as an integral part of a functional behavioral assessment process, digital observations can be examined by multidisciplinary teams to

• Identify and measure problematic behaviors.

• Determine why, where, and when a student uses these behaviors.

• Identify the instructional, social, affective, cultural, environmental, and contextual antecedents and consequences that appear to lead to and maintain the behaviors.

• Plan appropriate interventions that address the purposes the behaviors serve for students.

Teachers can use technology to conduct and communicate the results of observations (Edyburn & Basham,

2008) . For example, they can use handHeld computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to compose anecdotal records of the events that took place during an observation, and record as well as graph real-time data about student behaviors and interactions (Bauer & Ulrich, 2002). For example, the Ecobehavioral Assessment System Software (EBASS) is a software program designed to observe and assess student and teacher instructional behaviors in inclusive settings (Wallace, Anderson, Bartholomay, & Hupp, 2002).

Technology-Based Educational Games

Teachers can foster and assess student learning creatively through technologybased educational games (Bouck, 2006; Salend, 2009). Using software programs and Web sites, teachers can create or have students access novel and motivating classroom assessments across the curriculum that are presented via video, interactive whiteboards, presentation software, or collaborative game formats (Cote, 2007; Mounce,

2008) . Many of these games offer flexibility in varying the content and the nature of the skills to be assessed to match the needs and levels of many different students. For example, Science.

Net is a technology-based game where students adopt the roles of journalists and write stories about science and technology for online magazines (Shaffer, 2007); Gameshow Prep is a software program that allows teachers to create television-style academic games related to their curriculum; and Mind Reading: The Interactive Guide to Emotions is a software package containing photographs, and video and audio clips of different emotions that can be varied and presented to students as interactive games or quizzes to teach and assess students’ understanding of a range of emotions (Lacava, Golan, Baron-Cohen, & Smith Myles, 2007). When using technologybased educational games, it is important to make sure that students do not become overly competitive and stimulated and understand the rules for playing the games (Shaftel, Pass, & Schnabel, 2005).

Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)

Many teachers use curriculum-based measurement (CBM) to continuously monitor student learning and the effectiveness of their instructional interventions (Capizzi & Fuchs, 2005; Deno,

2003) . CBM is an process involving ongoing measurements of individual students’ progress in mastering content and skills directly related to the curriculum.

For instance, teachers often use CBM to examine progress in reading by repeatedly assessing student performance on the selections read every day in class. Data are collected over time and analyzed to identify students who are progressing and ready for new instruction as well as those students who have not yet demonstrated mastery and need additional or revised instruction.

Teachers can use technology to facilitate their implementation of CBM (Parette, Peterson-Karlan, Wojcik, & Bardi, 2007), by recording data on handheld devices and then using Internet resources to create CBM assessment probes and to record, graph, analyze, and share their CBM data. Students can use software packages to graph, store, access, and reflect on CBM data regarding their learning and behavior (Gunter, Miller, Venn, Thomas, & House, 2002), and use PDAs (adapted to provide pictorial, tactile, and auditory prompts) as technology- based self-monitoring tools (Mechling, 2007; Mitchem, Kight, Fitgerald, Koury, & Boonseng, 2007).

Technology-Based Performance Assessments

Teachers like Ms. Rodriguez are finding that technology is also an excellent way to measure the impact of their classroom instruction on their students’ academic performance (Salend, 2009).

Technology-based performance assessment, which can be an integral part of problem-based learning, involves students using a range of technologies to work on meaningful, complex, relevant, open-ended instructional activities and to create authentic products that show the results of their learning.

In addition to fostering students’ academic skills, technology-based performance assessment also can focus on showcasing students’ functional, career, social, and technology skills.

Several technologies appear to be particularly appropriate for use by students to present the products of their learning, including using presentation software and wikis; creating online and digital learning products such as Web pages/sites, blogs, podcasts, and digital movies/stories; and virtual learning experiences; and completing Webquests and tracks.

Using Presentation Software

Students can use presentation software to present the outcomes of their learning to others (Skouge, Kelly, Roberts, Leake, & Stodden, 2007). For example, several of Ms. Rodriguez’s students created a presentation explaining important aspects of the solar system to others (see Figure 1). In addition to presenting the key points and vocabulary related to the topic, these presentations also can include color, animation, audio, and visuals. Teachers can help students improve the quality of their presentations by showing students how to add video, visuals, television-style backgrounds, audio, animation, and hyperlinks to their presentations.

Students can also use presentation software to prepare a digital task analysis or social story that demonstrates their ability to perform specific academic, social, behavioral, transitional, and functional skills (Ayres & Langone, 2005; Schleibaum, 2007). This involves taking digital images (video or pictures) of each step in a task analysis or social story and converting the digital images into presentation software slides that include brief written and oral descriptions of each step in the task analysis or each event in the social story. Schleibaum provides steps for guiding students in creating social stories of their use of a variety of functional skills in community-based settings

Creating Online and Digital Learning Products

Student-created Web pages/sites, blogs, podcasts, digital videos/stories, and wikis also are authentic ways for students to demonstrate and share their learning with others (Salend, 2009). As some of Ms. Rodriguez’s students did, students can post their work on the class’s Web page or create Web pages/ sites presenting their assignments and then receive and respond to comments and questions from others about their postings. Most Internet service providers offer Web page/site creation software; there is also a variety of easyto- use assistance and services for creating and maintaining Web pages/sites.

Web Logs (Blogs). Students’ work also can take the form of a Web log (blog), an online diary that can be updated regularly by students and teachers to present student assignments.

In addition to text, blogs also can contain pictorials and video clips (vlogs), audio files such as music or narrations, and links to other related Web sites. Blogs also are good ways to extend classroom discussions or question- and-answer sessions beyond the confines of classrooms. Individuals and groups of students also can maintain blogs to share information about things they are learning, to comment on experiences and events, and to interact with others.Students can maintain a self-assessment learning blog that contains periodic entries related to classroom instructional activities. For instance, following a specific learning activity, they can compose entries related to the things they learned, the strategies they used to learn, the things they still do not understand, and the additional assistance they would like to receive (Salend, 2008). These entries can then be reviewed by teachers to identify curricular goals requiring additional instruction as well as teaching strategies in need of revision. They also can provide family members with insights into student learning.

Podcasts. Students can also display their learning by producing podcasts (Williams, 2007). Originally audio recordings of events or blogs, today’s podcasts frequently integrate audio and video to present information about a specific topic or to record a specific activity. Teachers and students can create podcasts of students engaged in such classroom activities as giving book reports and reviews, performing experiments and class plays, and discussing and presenting topics. When creating podcasts to share with others, it is important to include markers, which allow others to easily locate or access specific parts of the podcast.

Digital Videos and Storytelling. Students also can produce digital videos and stories to showcase the outcomes of their learning and communicate relevant information about themselves (Skouge et al., 2007; J. R. Thompson, Meadan, Fansler, Alber, & Balogh,

2007) . Students can use digital cameras, camcorders, and audio recorders to record video and audio material and then use moviemaking software programs to create digital videos or stories presenting role-plays, documentaries, narratives, news reports, essays, poems, book reports, interviews, and skill demonstrations (Orech, 2007). These programs also allow students to record narrations to describe learning products, processes and outcomes, and integrate music and artwork. For example, students can make digital videos of their learning that include their narration of what they have learned and how they learned it.

Digital storytelling is a particularly good format for having students present their skills and share information about themselves and their families with others (Skouge et al., 2007; J. R. Thompson et al., 2007). For example, Ronald worked with Mr. Shaw to create a digital story of his life, career preferences, and transition goals that contained pictures and video paired with text- and audio-based narratives of Ronald interacting with family and friends, participating in various community activities, working at different jobs, and engaging in hobbies. The digital story also included interviews with family and friends discussing Ronald’s successes and challenges. Ronald then presented his digital story at an IEP meeting to discuss the planning and delivery of transition services to help him meet his postsecondary goals.

Wikis. Students also can display their learning by using wikis, Web pages addressing a variety of topics which are updated and edited by visitors to the site (March, 2006). Students can share what they know about a specific topic by creating a new wiki or Editing an existing wiki. They can periodically view their wiki entries to see the comments and changes made by others. When using wikis, it is essential for teachers and students to verify the accuracy of the information the class posts and to carefully evaluate the information posted by others.

Engaging in Computer Simulations and Virtual Learning Experiences

Computer simulations, problem-solving software programs, and virtual learning experiences can be used to examine student responses to a range of learning situations and provide teachers with opportunities to assess academic, critical thinking, social, and metacognitive skills (Salend, 2009).

Okolo, Englert, Bouck, and Heutsche (2007); Cummings (2007); Cote (2007); Schaff, Jerome, Behrmann, and Sprague (2005); Smedley and Higgins (2005); and Okolo (2005) identify software programs and Web sites that provide simulations and virtual learning experiences related to science, mathematics, and social studies.

Teachers also can assess students’ academic, functional, transitional, social, and vocational skills using computer simulations and virtual learning experiences (Cummings, 2007, Mechling, Pridgen & Cronin, 2005); these types of programs also can be used to teach a range of life skills. Students can take a virtual ride on public transportation, go shopping at a virtual supermarket, perform a virtual job, interact socially with others in a virtual park, or respond to a virtual job or postsecondary education interview (Braddock, Rizzolo, Thompson, & Bell, 2004; Standen & Brown, 2006).

Multimedia coupled with computerand video-based technology can also provide options for assessing students’ academic, social, career preparation, functional, and transition skills in simulated community-based settings (Graves, Collins, Schuster, & Kleinert, 2005; Mechling et al., 2005; Shaffer,

2007) . Teachers can assess and analyze student responses to audio and video clips of academic and social situations or facial emotional expressions. Moore, Cheng, McGrath, and Powell (2005) developed a collaborative virtual environment and Lacava et al. (2007) used a range of technology-based programs presenting video and audio clips, audio only, and film to teach and assess interpreting facial expressions depicting a range of emotions (e.g., happiness, sadness, anger, and fear).

Mulitmedia and software programs also can be used to assess students’ interests and preferences in terms of learning, reinforcement, and careers— as well as their self-awareness. For example, Your Employment Selections (Morgan, Morgan, Despain, & Vasquez,

2006) and WorkSight (Stock, Davies, Secor, & Wehmeyer, 2003) are multimedia programs that use audio and visual prompts, icons, and video clips to guide students in communicating their job preferences. These preference assessment programs are especially helpful for students who have difficulty communicating and making choices (Cobigo, Morin, & Lachapelle, 2007).

StrategyTools, a software package that includes a range of template tools for Use by students, teachers, and families, contains an online self-awareness survey and monitoring card that students can complete to assess their skills (Mitchem et al., 2007). Teachers also can use online programs to create their own technology-based learning and reinforcement preference and selfawareness assessment surveys.

Completing Webquests and Tracks

A Webquest is an inquiry-oriented, cooperatively structured group activity in which some or all of the information presented to learners comes from resources on the Internet (Skylar, Higgins, & Boone, 2007). Webquests can be structured in a variety of ways including Internet hunts, puzzles, projects, and study guides. Like other projects produced by collaborative learning groups, educators can evaluate Webquests based on the groups’ mastery of subject matter as well as on their ability to work together. Each group member’s mastery of the content presented in the Webquest also can be assessed via individualized quizzes or probes.

A track is an online lesson that involves students engaging in a variety of instructional activities by visiting a series of teacher specified Web sites.

Teachers can then assess student learning by examining students’ learning products or by having students complete an online quiz of material presented via the track.

Instructional Rubrics

The academic and technology skills that students demonstrate when completing technology-based performance assessment projects can be evaluated by teachers and students using instructional rubrics (Salend, 2009), which assess process, performance, and progress by delineating the various categories associated with assessment tasks and learning activities, the different levels of performance, and the indicators describing each level (Andrade,

2008) . Instructional rubrics also may be used as part of student portfolios to help students, teachers, and family members reflect upon student work, identify skills mastered and not mastered, and guide instruction.

Technology can be an excellent vehicle for educators to access resources that can assist them in developing instructional rubrics. The Internet provides a forum to exchange information and ideas about instructional rubrics with colleagues—teachers can create and post their own rubrics or view and edit a bank of rubrics for evaluating technology-related projects developed by other professionals.

Once developed and shared with students, instructional rubrics can be posted online so that teachers, students and families can access them at their convenience.

Digital Portfolios

Technology also can be used to implement portfolio assessment, digitally recorded collections of student work over time that provide insight about the process and progress associated with student learning. Digital portfolios are appropriate for documenting the learning activities and progress of all students, including the technologybased classroom assessment activities described above. However, digital portfolios are particularly useful in complying with the assessment mandates for students with significant cognitive disabilities specified in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Instead of taking high-stakes grade-level tests based on statewide learning standards, students with significant cognitive disabilities are allowed to complete alternative assessments (e.g., portfolio assessment) aligned to alternate achievement standards that are not as complex as grade-level achievement standards (Yell, Katsiyannas, & Shiner, 2006).

These modified assessments are designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities like Ronald who

• Take a general education class for reasons other than mastery of the general education curriculum.

• Require extensive instructional modifications.

• Are not able to participate in highstakes testing even with testing accommodations.

In many states, modified assessments involve the use of portfolios to Compare student work over time, and to link student learning products to statewide standards (Perner, 2007).

These portfolios often take the form of digital portfolios, which contain audio and video recordings of students performing various activities related to alternate achievement standards. For example, Mr. Shaw and Ronald used a range of technologies to create a digital portfolio that included Ronald demonstrating a variety of functional, communication, social, behavioral and academic skills aligned to statewide learning standards, as well as Ronald’s digital story about his life and transitional goals.

Digital cameras, camcorders and audio recorders, and scanners (as well as the other technologies described above) can be used to record students performing academic and social activities and portfolio items (Glor-Sheib & Telthorster, 2006; J. R. Thompson et al.,

2007) . There is a range of digital portfolio software available to guide teachers and students in creating digital portfolios, offering ways to

• Scan audio and digital files of student work.

• Enter sound and video clips of observations and students engaged in a range of learning activities.

• Import external files containing student work from other programs (e.g., word processing, presentation software, and Web page/site construction programs).

• Organize portfolios by subject, theme, project, date, and title.

Link portfolio items to national, statewide, and districtwide standards, instructional rubrics, and individualized lesson plans.

• Facilitate the ease with which portfolios can be shared with others.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Although the use of technology-based classroom assessments has great potential, the digital divide is a concern in implementing the strategies presented in this article (Kalyanpur & Kirmani,

2005) ; teachers and students in underfunded schools often experience obstacles that limit their access to technology.

Students with disabilities, as well as those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those living in poverty, are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of the digital divide.

Bridging the digital divide is a complex problem that requires a range of solutions (Salend, 2008). However, educators can work toward helping all of their students obtain the skills needed to use a wide range of technologies.

In addition to modeling appropriate use of a range of technologies, educators can provide ongoing opportunities to use technology in daily classroom instructional activities, and explicitly teach students the skills needed to use a variety of technologies (e.g., creating digital presentations and stories, Web pages/sites, podcasts, etc.; King-Sears & Evmenova, 2007).

Addressing the digital divide also means providing students with special needs with the assistive technology they require to participate in technology- based classroom assessment activities (Dell, Newton, & Petroff, 2008; Mechling, 2007; Parette & Peterson- Karlan, 2007). For example, students with reading or visual disabilities may benefit from use of screen/text reading programs, optical character reading systems, and font enlargement and screen magnification/contrast programs; English language learners may need to access bilingual dictionaries/ glossaries, hand-held talking translators, or translation software programs that can convert text from one language into another.

Teaching Students to Be Good Digital Citizens

Students also need instruction in being good digital citizens (November, 2008; Salend, 2008). Educators can establish and teach students rules and etiquette for using the Internet and protecting their privacy: avoiding giving out personal information and pictures, plagiarism, cyberbullying, spam, viruses, and engaging in off-task activities during instructional times. Students also need to learn how to conduct searches, to interact with others, and to evaluate Web sites and Web-based information.

It also is important for educators to monitor their students’ use of technology during instruction to make sure students are using it appropriately.

Safeguarding Students and Their Work

Technology-based performance assessments have the advantage of making student work more authentic because it can easily be shared with and used by others (November, 2008; Salend, 2009).

However, it is critical to exercise caution and take safeguards when sharing students’ work with others. Prior to posting student work online, teachers should make sure that digital environment is safe and secure by

• Obtaining permission from students, their families, and their school district to post student work.

• Deleting confidential and personally- identifying information from students’ work.

• Having students use pseudonyms and numbers instead of their real names.

• Not posting photos of students.

• Vetting the content and visuals to make sure they are appropriate for viewing by others.

• Using password protection to control who can post and view student work.

• Limiting access so that only families can view their child’s work (November, 2008).

Learning About Technology

Educators also can support their students’ use of technology by learning more about technology and classroom assessment techniques including current issues, developments, and research findings. They can attend professional development sessions and read journal articles and books such as those in this article’s reference list.

They also can view Web sites that present information and resources addressing issues related to technology and assessment. For example, the Technology-Based Assessment Project (nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies /tbaproject.asp) being undertaken by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is exploring new uses of technology in the assessment process.

Evaluating the Use of Technology

It is important to continually evaluate and refine the use of technology-based classroom assessment activities to ensure they are achieving their intended outcomes. The effectiveness of technology-based classroom assessment can be evaluated by examining student learning as evidenced by increased mastery of learning standards and improvements in student grades. It also is critical to examine issues of equity to determine the extent to which the various technologies are available and accessible to individual students as well as different groups of students.

The perceptions of students, educators, and family members regarding the use of these technologies also can help determine their overall effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, and acceptability.

Educators can reflect on the extent to which these practices inform their teaching and help to monitor, support, and communicate student learning.

Educators should also evaluate the time, resources, and preparation it takes to implement these practices. Students and family members can share their perceptions, identify effective and ineffective aspects, and make suggestions for enhancing the efficacy of technology- based classroom assessments.

It’s also helpful to examine potential problems associated with employing technology-based classroom assessment techniques. Effective practices can be continued and those that are not achieving their intended outcomes can be revised to make them more successful.

Final Thoughts

The use of technology-based classroom assessment alternatives can have advantages for students, teachers, and family members. For students, using technology to produce assessment products can be a motivating way to simultaneously develop academic, social, career, functional, and technological skills. For teachers, these practices can be used to help monitor student learning progress and inform their instructional decision making. These practices also can be adapted for use with a wide range of students, and can facilitate the communication of information about students and their learning with students’ families and other professionals. However, when using these practices, educators should proceed gradually, bridge the digital divide, teach students to be good digital citizens, safeguard students and their work, and keep abreast of new technologies and assessment strategies.

They should also carefully evaluate the various technologies to identify those most effective, equitable, and appropriate for use by students and teachers, and determine the extent to which the use of technology-based assessment strategies align with their instructional program and curricular goals.


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Spencer J. Salend (CEC NY Federation), Professor of Special Education, State University of New York at New Paltz.

The author would like to acknowledge Ms. Emi DiSciullo for contributing the photos for this article.

Address correspondence to Spencer J. Salend, Department of Educational Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561 (e-mail: salends@newpaltz.edu). TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 41, No. 6, pp. 48–58.

Copyright 2009 CEC.