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Norwalk Schools Near Online Testing, Cloud Network

Computer-based assessments to arrive in spring 2014
Norwalk, CT | Added on October 01, 2013 At 11:47 PM

Tuesday Norwalk's Board of Education unanimously approved a plan that will send the district's testing to the cloud.

The plan, laid out by Director of Technology Ralph Valenzisi, calls for up to $1.4 million to go toward installation of a wireless internet network to be installed throughout the city's 19 schools; the network will house all student test results.

Students will take those tests with Google Chromebook laptop computers, on which they will use web-based applications and assessments.

"Once we have the wireless in place, Norwalk can deliver Smarter Balanced Assessments," he said.  

Smarter Balanced Assessments are online tests developed in junction with Common Core State Standard curriculum.

Valenzisi's plan will see a large number of laptop carts delivered to each elementary, middle and high school.  Each cart holds 25 laptops.  Valenzisi said three to four carts will go to each elementary school; five to eight carts will go to each middle school; eight carts to each high school.

The Chromebook model Valenzisi used during a demonstration Tuesday sells for $250, he said.

The Google laptop was chosen over other models, like Apple's iPad, for several reasons, Valenzisi said.  Namely, Chromebooks have better Flash software capabilities for video- and image-related applications.  The iPad screen is also not large enough to handle some of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, he said.

The transition will take place in two phases.  Phase one will cover kindergarten and elementary schools and cost $869,057.  Phase two will cover high school installations and, according to Valenzisi, should not exceed $587,555.

Valenzisi said the district goal is to have the project complete by March 2014.


Photo credit: Flickr user kjarrett

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