Giving Compass' Take:

• In 2017, students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress on tablets for the first time. Educators and superintendents are worried about the digital switch. 

• How will students respond to other forms of edtech tools and digital tests? How can teachers prepare students for future digital classrooms? 

• Education innovation is already in most classrooms. In fact, Business Insider reports digital learning platforms are in 70 percent of U.S. schools. 

A critical question has hung over the release of scores on national math and reading tests: Can state trends be relied on, given this year’s switch to digital tests?

For the first time, the vast majority of students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress on tablets in 2017. Students can be affected by how they take a test, something researchers call “mode effect” — and NCES, the federal agency that administers the tests, says it’s gone to great lengths to ensure that comparisons over time are fair.

Louisiana superintendent John White registered concerns regarding NAEP’s digital switch and what that meant for students with less familiarity with digital assessments in a March 23 letter. White didn’t mention his own state’s results then, but the scores released Monday show that the state saw approximately 5-point drops on both fourth grade exams, a 2-point decline in eighth grade math, and a 1-point gain in eighth grade reading.

In a letter obtained by Chalkbeat, NCES associate commissioner Peggy Carr responded to White. She wrote that students nationally did fare worse on digital tests compared to paper, with fourth-graders seeing scores dip more than eighth graders. Those differences — the “digital penalty” — were accounted for with a national adjustment when NCES reported the latest results, Carr notes.

But an analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Education Policy found that states, where students had prior experience taking state exams online, saw slightly larger gains — at most, 2 points — on three of the four tests.

Read the full article about digital testing by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.