"We have made this conscious decision not to run out and buy slews of technology that by the time we give the rollout of PARCC could be outdated," he said.

In Baltimore, which was not included in the report, city officials said Thursday that they had been surveying infrastructure needs to support PARCC.

Kim Robinson, interim director of the city's Office of Achievement and Accountability, said about 60 percent of the schools have the ability to administer PARCC and that the district would need at least 3,000 new devices such as laptops.

"We're feeling like that's obviously a big investment but one that feels fairly manageable since the majority of our schools are really within reach to be able to close those gaps," Robinson said.

The district also plans to spend to increase bandwidth and hire staff to support schools as they navigate the new testing. The city said it is optimistic because nearly all of its high schools have used online testing in the past year.

Carroll County reported that its greatest need was more staff. The district said it needs at least one information technology staff member per school, and more competitive salaries. The additional positions could cost $2.8 million.

Harford County reported that it needed wireless in more than 50 of schools, more support staff and more than 15,000 devices.

Howard County said it needs 1,830 more computers, some laptops will need software upgrades and the district wants an "end-to-end test of our network capacity" to verify its ability to handle the testing.

Henry Johnson, assistant state superintendent for curriculum and assessment, said he is not concerned about the districts meeting the deadline of having technology in place. He noted that some testing is done online now.

A significant number of students are taking tests, such as the science portion of the MSAs and the High School Assessments, online.

In some counties, such as Talbot and Garrett, nearly all testing is done online. But most of the large districts, including Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford, Montgomery and Howard counties, still give a large percentage of tests on paper.

The greatest concern of school system leaders, Johnson said, is that they don't have enough computers to give the tests during a four-week window in March and May.

"Districts want to make sure they have enough hardware in place so as not to cause instructional disruption," he said.

Cheryl Bost, vice president of the Maryland State Education Association, which represents most teachers in the state, said she believes there is still debate about whether the state should put so much money into testing.

"We support the Common Core, but this is taking a huge chunk of money away from implementation and going straight to testing," she said.

To test the capacity in schools, the nonprofit Education SuperHighway is working nationwide to help school systems.

Eleven of 24 districts in Maryland have completed those tests. Results reported to the legislature indicate that 85 percent of the schools in the 11 districts are not prepared.

"They are not ready to give the test and have a normal school day," said Adam Mendelson, a spokesman for MSEA.

He said that means classroom teaching or the school's normal Internet needs would be interrupted during testing.

"I just think that it shows that school systems up front are not prepared to administer the PARCC online," Bost said. "Many of them are saying it is a two- to four-year ramp up to get there."

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

erica.green@baltsun.com

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