I Wish All “Things IT” Were This Easy

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Thank you to Jonathan Ferrara – IT Manager from Revere Public Schools – for this update about PARCC Field Test Proctor Caching. His experience will be helpful for schools planning on using the caching option for field tests.

As IT people, our environments are perpetually dynamic.  They converge, diverge, expand and contract.  It is as if our systems are living entities.  This constant state of change requires frequent training and skills updates in order to stay current with all of the new technologies thrust upon us.

So when PARCC came around and I heard the phrase ‘Proctor Caching Server,’ my first thought was, “Great, one more server to build and maintain.”  So I arranged to get my username and password to pearsonaccess.com, blocked off 3 hours of my day, logged in and started to explore.  I saw the link for the proctor caching user guide and downloaded it.  Hesitantly, I double-clicked the PDF, expecting a 100 page whitepaper…  To my surprise… 8 pages!  The hardware requirements were listed right on page 1 (below).

Hardware Requirements

Hardware           Windows                                    Mac
Processor            1.6 GHz x86-compatible         Intel Core Due 2.0GHz
Memory               1 GB Ram                                   1 GB Ram

Our oldest machines have this level of specification.  This didn’t seem right, so I called Pearson support and spoke with a tech in order to confirm that I really did not need true server hardware.  He said a regular PC will do.  So I imaged a quad core PC with 8 GB of RAM, logged back into pearsonaccess.com and downloaded the PC version of the ‘Proctor Caching Installer’.

Again, to my surprise, the caching server download was only about 47 Meg!  I ran the installer, followed all of the prompts, chose the defaults and completed setup.  Part of the install was a shortcut placed in the Program Files that read ‘Monitor Proctor Caching.’  I clicked on it and it said ‘No Known Issues’ with any content or any client.  Again, I called Pearson…  I must have done something wrong.  Nothing has been this simple in the last 10 years!  I called and they assured me I installed it properly.  However, they did inform me that I will not see be able to cached content until the test trials open.

My last step… set the proctor caching configuration within the portal…  So, I logged back into the portal, clicked on ‘test setup’ and ‘configure test nav.’ I clicked ‘New Configuration,’ named it and answered all of the questions (Configuration Name, District name or School (your choice), IP address of caching server and server port (4480).  Done.

When the student logs into the portal to take the test, the student is redirected to the caching server based upon these settings.  In other words, if this last step isn’t followed, all students would take the test live over the Internet even though the caching server exists on your network.  The student accounts would not inherit the caching server information and would not be aware of the server.

The 3 hours I allocated to this task became 30 minutes at best.  In my opinion, this setup was very well designed.  It is a simple installation, simple configuration and requires no specialized hardware.  Obviously we cannot yet test the functionality as no test content is available, but it is clear Pearson had simplicity and ease of administration in mind during the design.  I only wish more academic test taking systems were this simple.  Great job by Pearson.

Jonathan Ferrara
IT Manager
Revere Public Schools
Twitter @RPSTechdept

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2 thoughts on “I Wish All “Things IT” Were This Easy

    Jeff Braumberger said:
    February 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Jonathan,

    Found your post and find it very helpful. We have our test sessions setup (just a small group of 8-15 students the first week of testing, thank goodness) and the proctor caching server is up. I’m wondering how to get the testing content to the caching server. I’m sure there’s documentation, but recently coming from a private university to public education has been, needless to say, overwhelming. Any advise or information you could offer would be great. I can also be reached a braumbergerj@norwalktruckers.net.

    Thanks,

    Jeff

      Dennis Villano responded:
      February 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Hello Jeff – I just sent you and Jon Ferrara an email regarding Proctor Caching questions. Dennis

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