ISTE and Microsoft Team Up to Provide Online Assessments Of Technology Literacy in Eighth Graders

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2004 — The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation mandates that by 2006 every eighth-grade student in the United States be proficient in technology literacy skills. To help teachers monitor student progress and meet the requirements, an innovative new online tool to assess the technology literacy of middle school students will make its debut during a demonstration* at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in New Orleans on Saturday, June 19, 2004. Developed as a collaboration between the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®
) and Microsoft Corp., the assessment tool is a component of Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning.

The free online tool will be accessible through ISTE’s Web site ( ), and will contain 12 assessments as well as classroom curriculum and teacher support materials. The first seven assessments will be available beginning with the June 19 debut; the remaining five will be available in mid-August. Each of the 12 assessments involves between five and 10 tasks.

“Technology allows schools to adapt instruction to individual student needs based on instant feedback using online assessments, student data management systems and online learning approaches,” said Susan Patrick, director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education. “It is important for leaders in education to embrace new ways of enhancing teaching and learning through technology — developing new skills using a standards-based curriculum, embedded approach with online assessment tools. New methods using technology provide just-in-time feedback to help teachers adapt curriculum to students needs, and offer new student choices for attaining educational excellence.”

The online assessments are aligned with ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S), a standard for educational uses of technology that facilitates school improvement in the United States. Each assessment meets at least two NETS*S standards, and includes a mapping tool to specify the standards met.

The performance-based assessments use authentic, real-world scenarios to test eighth-grade technology literacy skills using the Microsoft® Word, Excel, PowerPoint® , Internet Explorer, Outlook® , Access and FrontPage®
applications and were piloted by 133 students in eight U.S. middle schools.

According to Anthony Salcito, general manager for Microsoft Education — U.S. Public Sector, “U.S. Partners in Learning is part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to help schools achieve a successful 21st-century learning environment. By working with and supporting leading education organizations such as ISTE, we can deliver on that commitment and enable educators with needed resources and tools as they work to integrate technology skills into education.”

The assessment tool offers eighth-grade teachers the following distinctive features:

  • Authenticity. Because they are performance-based, the assessment experiences are more robust and real-world than those based solely on questions and answers. Consequently, they can measure some of the more complex and challenging performance indicators in NETS*S.

  • Convenience. The tool is free and is always available. Teachers may assess students class by class, or one at a time, whichever is easiest.

  • Confidentiality. Teachers set up a private account. Students sign in not with a name, but with an identifying number that associates them with their class.

  • Instant feedback. An immediate reporting feature helps teachers make instructional decisions and adjustments quickly.

ISTE, Microsoft Offer Online Assessments

“At ISTE, we know it’s critical that teachers have free access to tools that improve the student learning experience,” said Don Knezek, Ph.D., CEO of ISTE. “This new online assessment makes it convenient to gauge success at meeting NETS*S standards and to make adjustments in curricula to ensure that success.”

ISTE is a major collaborator with Microsoft’s new U.S. Partners in Learning initiative, a five-year, $35 million effort focusing on sustainable educational models for combining teaching and technology. In creating the online assessment tool, ISTE developed the content, while Microsoft provided funding, technical assistance and Microsoft technology. The platform was provided by MeasureUp Inc., a provider of high-quality assessments and practice tests.

About the International Society for Technology in Education

The International Society for Technology (ISTE) is the trusted source in education technology for professional development, knowledge generation and advocacy. A nonprofit membership organization, ISTE provides leadership and service to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in K–12 and teacher education. Home of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), the Center for Applied Research in Education Technology (CARET), and National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), ISTE represents more than 85,000 worldwide leaders and potential leaders in educational technology. We support our members with information, networking opportunities and guidance as they face the challenge of integrating technology into schools.

Recent ISTE initiatives include the ISTE Institute: Leading with NETS, a professional development program for educators based on ISTE’s NETS; and the ISTE Futures Project, which includes a new formal and academic Delphi Study that will forecast likelihoods for the future of education.

Visit or call 1-800-336-5191 to learn more about ISTE.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* Note to NECC attendees: The new online assessment tool will be demonstrated during the Assessment and Technology Forum Gallery Walk to be held Saturday, June 19, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Grand Ballroom B of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

Microsoft, PowerPoint, Outlook and FrontPage are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.ISTE is the registered trademark of International Society for Technology in Education.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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