Illinois State Board of Education Alternate Assessment Success

Case Study

Illinois State Board of Education: Cost Meets Innovation

Summative Science Assessment for 400,000 Illinois K-12 Students in an Open-Source Platform

Using an open-source, innovative platform, Breakthrough Technologies successfully delivered a high-stakes summative assessment to nearly half a million K-12 students – and did so in a matter of months.

It was a big win: Illinois fulfilled a major initiative in their education strategy with open-source technology, potentially saving the state millions in per-student assessment costs.

Tight delivery of content, an extended test window, and an NGSS-aligned summative science assessment – the first delivered both on this platform and to this student population – challenged the team, but both the test window and the budget came in as planned.
When testing time came, the State of Illinois needed something stable, secure, and powerful.  

Required to administer a summative assessment for science in the spring of 2016, the State determined that the most cost-effective solution was to use open-source technology.

In two months, nearly 400,000 students completed three forms of high-stakes science common core curriculum. Students in grades 5 and 8, as well as high school biology, worked through multiple choice, extended text, and inline choice questions with multiple response.
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It is the only scalable open-source platform designed for item authoring, content ingestion, and test administration. The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has also made a solid investment in the build-out of the platform for its non-summative assessment system. As members of the PARCC consortium, we can both leverage the work completed to date and contribute work that will also be of benefit to the consortium.
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

Illinois State Board of Education: How It Works

The assessment achieves robust, modern delivery with Drupal CMS, TAO, custom software development, and a multi-tenant, scalable Amazon Web Services infrastructure.  An automated rostering process connects the system with the state’s student information systems of choice.  An open-source platform proven to support English Language Arts (ELA) and Math can now also deliver NGSS-aligned science assessments as well. The result: a platform that allows for a branded, segregated, secure experience for Illinois, all while sustaining a separate diagnostic test event for another multi-state consortium.

A Secure Platform

The security of student data and test content was, of course, paramount.  Assessment content was delivered using Safe Exam Browsers (SEB) across multiple operating systems and device types.  Even in a Beta state, the Breakthrough Technologies SEB solution offered Illinois the levels of security appropriate for such an important test event.