SANTA FE (KRQE) - Out with Scantrons and bubbles and in with the 21st century.
Starting in the spring, New Mexico's school kids will have to use computers to take their dreaded SBA tests.
But are the schools ready?
The paper and pencil version of the test will soon be a thing of the past, replaced by computers. Making sure schools across the state are ready is the next big challenge.
“Our kids most often are more advanced then we are as adults,” said Secretary of Public Education Hanna Skandera. “It's time to meet them where they are.”
That means a change in the classroom and a change to Standards Based Assessments, phasing out the traditional tests for a computer-based version.
“Over the long haul, there are no down sides that I can see for our students,” Skandera said.
The goal is to have schools across the state ready by March.
To get a better idea of who's ready and who isn't, the Public Education Department is launching an online tool that goes live Tuesday.
Skandera says schools need to have at least one computer for every five students and a strong enough Internet connection.
It's a move she says will save $3 per student, cut down on cheating and move New Mexico into this century.
Currently, third through eighth graders, sophomores and juniors all take the SBA tests, or about 100,000 students.
In Albuquerque, it's not exactly clear which schools are ready. However, APS says the district easily has more than enough computers.
Down in Las Cruces, fewer schools are ready.
“If there is a district or schools that are not ready, we have some time to close that gap and insure we're ready for success,” Skandera said.
She says the whole thing will have some up-front costs, though, including training teachers to give the new tests. Any school not ready will be able to continue with written tests.
In two years, the SBA will be replaced by what's called the PARCC exam. It will also be taken online and will be developed by teachers in New Mexico.
An immediate concern with the computer-based move is rural New Mexico. The Public Department of Education hopes those districts will submit information early enough so the state can help them out.
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