Using Macs with the PARCC Assessment
Macs provide a stable platform for the PARCC assessments and can be managed remotely, allowing for OIIT to push software updates and assist with the management of the laptops/desktops. Donated Macs can also be used to deliver the PARCC assessment with little preparation ahead of time, especially when using the Testnav App.
SpecificationsOS: 10.7 or aboveRam: 4gb+Screen size: 10"+Processor: VariesJava: Latest version
Browser and Java not required if using the TestNav app
Preparing your Macs1. Check your Macs to make sure they meet the minimum system requirements by visiting http://systemcheck.parcc.testnav.com. This site will scan the computer to make sure it meets all of the system requirements.
2. Download the new Testnav app to each Mac by visiting http://download.testnav.com. This is a new application that PARCC released this year and does not require Java or a specific browser.
ConsiderationsBPS highly recommends downloading and installing the Testnav app to avoid potential issues withbrowser or Java compatibility. If you are not able to install the app, the following issues may arise when using a browser to take the PARCC test.
Java: If you are using a browser to take the assessment, Java could be problematic and require frequent updates. Java should be updated to the latest version but we did see issues with Java releasing updates during the testing window in previous years.
Browser: BPS has found that Firefox is the most stable and reliable browser for the PARCC assessment. Google Chrome for Mac is no longer supported and Safari only works with certain versions of OSX.
Operating system: Older Macs might have an operating system that is incompatible with PARCC. Testnav requires 10.7 or above, which is standard on all BPS Macs purchased in the past 5 years. Running the system check (above) will check for this issue prior to the assessment.
Secure Testing EnvironmentIf you are using the PARCC app (recommended) students will open the PARCC app like any other program and it will lock the computer into testing mode once they log in. If you are unable to use the app, then a browser must be used and Java is required to secure the Mac into testing mode. Students will receive a URL for the PARCC assessment on their testing ticket that they will enter into the browser. When you go to this URL from the testing computer, Java will be activated and will put the computer into testing mode, essentially locking the computer into the test.
Battery ConsiderationsBattery life can vary by the age of the laptop. We recommend closing down all background programs before opening the test to save power and shutting the computers completely down (don’t just close the lid) to charge them overnight. Mac batteries tend to lose their charge after three years so older Mac laptop labs may require power strips in the classroom during the testing window.
Donated MacsAs long as donated Macs pass the system check, they can be used with the PARCC assessment. We recommend using the Testnav app to administer the test, especially with donated devices, since both the browser and Java version may be outdated on donations.
The most common problem we saw with Macs was with an outdated version of Java, which is why PARCC released the app this year. We also saw issues with the Java security settings when you first log in to the test. The first time you open the PARCC test, Java will ask if you trust this website and ask if you allow the program to run full screen. Students may instinctively click no, so it’s recommended that teachers guide students through the first time or have someone login to the test on each computer before students arrive.
We recommend closing down any other programs that may run in the background of the computer, specifically software that may pop-up on the screen, such as the Smartboard tools application. Background applications tend to cause interruptions and can disrupt the secure testing environment, causing the student to be logged out of the assessment during the session.