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Frequently Asked Questions about Technology Needed

What do schools need to do technology-wise to get ready for the online assessments?

Each year, schools MUST install the correct, updated secure browser on each computer that students will use to access the online Hawaii Statewide Assessment Program tests based on the operating system. These browsers prevent students from accessing other computer applications while they are taking an assessment. Secure browsers from previous HSAP administrations (e.g., 2019–2020) will not work. Click here for information about installing the updated secure browsers and how to remove the previous browser(s).

Please refer to the Quick Guide for Setting Up Your Online Testing Technology and the related Configuration and Troubleshooting documents available for each operating system on alohahsap.org for specific information about hardware, software, and operating system requirements and secure browser installation.

How many computers will we need to conduct the assessments?

The Hawaii Department of Education recommends that each school has approximately one computer for every five to ten students; however, even fewer will work since not all students will have to access the online testing sites at the same time.

Appendix Y of the Test Administration Manual includes a worksheet that can be used to determine the number of days needed for completing online assessments in your school. We strongly encourage you to use this worksheet to help develop your assessment schedules.

Note: When counting computers, you should only count computers in settings where groups of students can be assessed together. At least one computer in this setting should be reserved for the Test Administrator. Classroom settings where some students will be taking the online assessments and other students will be participating in learning activities are not appropriate for online HSAP testing.

What is the maximum number of students in a school that can connect to the online HSAP at one time?

In general, the performance of the online testing system will depend on a number of factors, including bandwidth, total number of students simultaneously testing, size of test content, secure browser installation, proxy server (if used), and wireless networking solution (if used). As the number of students testing increases, competition for network bandwidth increases. Network bandwidth resembles highway traffic; as the number of cars traveling on a given road increases, the speed of traffic flow decreases.

The optimal number of student workstations supported by a single wireless connection will depend on the type of networking standard being used for the connection. The two most common networking standards are 802.11g (54M bits per second) and the newer and faster standard, 802.11n (300M bits per second). Both the access point, which emits the wireless signal, and the computer’s wireless card, which receives the signal, will use one of these two standards. The recommendations below are based on the standard in use:

  • Wireless connections using an 802.11g access point can reliably support a maximum of 20 PC and/or Mac workstations that use wireless cards with either the 802.11g or the 802.11n standard.
  • Wireless connections using an 802.11n access point can reliably support a greater number of workstations; however, the make and model of the 802.11n access point will affect the number of additional workstations that the access point can support. Thus, the manufacturer’s documentation should be consulted for verification.

Typically, when all workstations are using an 802.11n wireless card, the 802.11n access point can support approximately 40 computers. In cases where the workstation wireless cards are a mix of both 802.11n and 802.11g, supported connections should not exceed 50 workstations.

How do I download and install the secure browser?

The updated secure browsers, along with installation instructions, are available on the Secure Browsers page. This page also includes information on how to uninstall/remove the previous secure browsers.

Additional information, including guidelines for installing the secure browsers over a school network, is available in the Quick Guide for Setting Up Your Online Testing Technology and the related Configuration and Troubleshooting documents available for each operating system.

Can student monitoring software be used?

Student monitoring software (such as Hapara, etc.) may not be used during testing. This software may run on the student tablets, such as Chromebooks, when the Secure Browser has been launched in Kiosk mode, but the test coordinator, technology coordinator and/or others who may have access to the parent computer may not use these program(s) during testing. Access to students' screens via student monitoring software during testing is considered to be a test security violation.

How do I disable pop-up blockers?

Pop-up blockers must be disabled to access TIDE, the Test Administrator Training Site, the TA Live Site, the Online Reporting System, and other related HSAP testing systems. To allow pop-up windows, go to the menu option shown here for each browser:

  • Firefox: Tools > Options > Content > uncheck “Block pop-up windows”
  • Google Chrome: Menu > Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Content settings > Pop-ups > select “Allow all sites to show pop-ups”
  • Safari: Application Menu (Safari) > Block Pop-up Windows (make sure this is unchecked)

What should I do if Internet access to the HSAP testing site is slow and student computers are stalling or timing-out from testing?

If a student’s computer is slow or non-responsive, the student may be moved to another computer that was previously set up as a backup. If all student computers are slow or non-responsive for an extended period of time (more than several minutes), the Test Administrator may pause testing and work with the school’s Technology Coordinator to troubleshoot the school’s network. If the school’s network is stable, the Test Coordinator should reschedule the testing session and contact the HSAP Help Desk (hsaphelpdesk@cambiumassessment.com or 1-866-648-3712) to report the issue.

Note: The Department of Education recommends that the Assessment System Status page (found at alohahsap.org) be checked prior to administering a test session. If the status for all systems is “fully operable,” then testing may commence. The Department of Education also recommends that a school’s bandwidth be checked prior to testing and that access to all bandwidth-intensive websites (e.g., Achieve 3000’s KidBiz and TeenBiz) be limited on the school’s network during online HSAP testing.

What happens if the power goes out, a student accidentally switches off the computer, or we have another technology or power problem?

The online HSAP system will not lose data if a student’s Internet connection is interrupted or the computer crashes or experiences a power loss. After the Internet connection and/or power source is re-established, a student may resume testing where he or she left off. The student may access previously answered questions during the current test session, as long as the connection was re-established within 20 minutes. Similarly, if classroom-wide access to the Internet goes down or the power goes out, students will have to resume their assessments when the Internet connection and/or power source is fully restored and consistent.

Note: Students will not be able to review previously answered questions, including marked (flagged) questions, if they resume the assessment more than 20 minutes after the test was paused. The only exception to this occurs when a student was last on a reading passage that contained multiple questions and not all of the questions displayed on the screen had been answered. The student will be presented with that reading passage and all associated items and will be able to review the previously answered questions on that page.

If a student’s assessment or exam has been paused for more than 20 minutes due to a major disruption, such as a fire drill, a school-wide power or Internet outage, or a natural disaster, the Test Coordinator may submit a Grace Period Extension (GPE) request in the “Testing Incidents” tab of TIDE. A GPE will allow the student to go back and review his or her answers to previously answered questions. NOTE: If a student is taking an online HSA Science assessment, he or she must NOT be allowed to proceed to the next assessment opportunity. The Assessment Section will review the GPE request in TIDE and will notify the Test Coordinator via email of the decision. The student should not resume testing in the particular content area until the Test Coordinator has received the Assessment Section’s decision.

Why are online assessments paused when automatic updates start running?

The secure browser and Test Delivery System ensure the security of the testing environment at all times. When the secure browser detects applications that are triggered by automatic updates, such as Firefox or iTunes, the Test Delivery System will pause the student’s assessment. A number of software programs, including antivirus software, have automatic updates enabled, and these often trigger forbidden application processes during testing.

To prevent students’ tests from being paused, check software settings and determine whether auto-updates are enabled. If they are enabled, you are encouraged to either disable them or schedule them to run outside of school hours.

May iPads and/or other mobile devices be used for testing?

Yes. Mobile secure browsers are now available for iPads and Chromebooks. Further information is available in the Quick Guide for Setting Up Your Online Testing Technology and on the Secure Browsers page on the HSAP portal website.

What will happen if Test Administrators and students use netbooks that have screens smaller than 10 inches? (Note: The minimum recommended screen size is 10 inches and the minimum supported resolution is 1024 x 600.)

Individuals using netbooks with smaller screen sizes will still be able to access the online HSAP system but may need to scroll down or across to see the complete screen. Students can also use the zoom tool in the Student Training Test and in the HSAP Secure Browser during assessments to enlarge the content on the screen.

Do we need audio devices for the assessments?

Schools need to provide headphones for all students taking the Smarter Balanced ELA CAT assessments, and for students who use the text-to-speech (TTS) embedded designated support feature for any assessment. No microphones are needed.

Prior to student testing, the headphones and audio should be checked to ensure that the sound quality and volume settings are appropriate. To check that test audio can be heard, plug in the headphones and then launch the secure browser. On the login screen, click the link to navigate to the Practice and Training Tests. The audio settings can be made by clicking the [Run Diagnostics] link on the Practice and Training Tests login page, then navigating to [Text-to-Speech Check]. Follow the prompts to complete the TTS check. If your audio settings need to be adjusted, make the appropriate changes in the computer’s user interface, and then run the TTS check again.

Students who have TTS enabled for a test can adjust audio settings during the sound check. Students encounter the TTS sound check after they have been approved by the Test Administrator. Only those students who have TTS enabled for their test will see the TTS sound check. The sound check contains a sample audio clip that the student can play. An audio wizard on this page allows the student to adjust both the volume and the speed of the TTS sample. After adjusting the audio settings to his or her needs, the student is able to start the test.

The Text-to-Speech designated support can be enabled or disabled in the TA Live Site prior to approving a student’s test session. The TTS designated support setting can also be enabled or disabled prior to testing via TIDE. Students who need to practice taking online assessments using TTS must use the secure browser or the Firefox or Chrome web browsers to access the Student Training Site. TTS is not supported when using other web browsers (such as Safari).