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The 6 technology skills expected of all incoming freshmen - all

On my way to Beijing. 8.5 inches of snow last night. Keeping my fingers crossed the flights go. Getting a little work done while in the boarding area...


Minneapolis Airport, March 5, 2013 6:30AM

GoogleDoc containg all 6 IT skills that should be expected of all incoming high school freshmen and accessed at the link below. (You should not need additional permission to access.) Under CreativeCommons license so use and share. Comments are welcome:

This was the purpose of the performance assessments, first written in 2005, and just updated:

What IT Skills Should Teachers Expect of Incoming HS Freshmen? (revised)

Doug Johnson
March 2013

At a district curriculum council meeting in 2005 we discussed how we might be able to determine the level of technology proficiency of our incoming 9th graders. While we have a fairly good handle on what we teach all students grades K- 6 through our library media program, we still find a large disparity among students as they enter high school. Much of the difference can be attributed to the varying levels of teacher enthusiasm for reinforcing skills in the classroom and, of course, levels of home access.

A paper and pencil test on ICT skills seems shallow. A full-blown performance assessment would be a huge time commitment. A self-assessment rubric would be unreliable.

There are some online “performance tests.” ETS is designed one for college students. But I have seen little work done on how we accurately measure the skills of incoming high school students.

Here is my very modest proposal: we pick the top “ICT skills” that classroom teachers should be able to expect of all students and design short, authentic tasks that can be easily assessed. If each core classroom teacher gives and evaluates one skill at the beginning of the freshman year, a profile of every student can be compiled and remediation can be provided through classes taught by the librarian.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been a classroom teacher, but I will start the conversation by suggesting that these tools and skills are essential for all students if they are to be able to do basic work assigned by classroom teachers.

  1. Word processing
  2. Spreadsheet use and graphing
  3. Multimedia presentation software and digital image handling
  4. Online communications
  5. Internet-enabled research
  6. Managing one's online presence (new 2013)


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Reader Comments (10)

Thanks for sharing these, Doug. Travel safely!

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarren Draper

Good stuff. I always felt the 8th grade assessment we had our students take in my last district to be NCLB compliant was weak/shallow. But that's what you get for free. Now that we're elbow deep in tech planning these are some nice options to consider. Isn't "another test" we're requiring, can be embedded into the curriculum.

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

Hi Darren,

You're welcome.

Jet lagged in Beijing. Amazing what you can accomplish when you can't sleep!

Take care,


Hi Nathan,

Yeah, I really think with tech skills, authentic assessment of some sort is really the only way to go. I've always thought the actual driving test was better than the paper and pencil test when judging whether to give somebody a license!


March 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Great list - you had me at #1 but lost me at #6. If kept as is, I would do away with (or tweak) 6.4. Social security numbers should never be given over the Internet. Many entities ask for social security numbers but they don't actually need it. It's always good to refuse. The wording in 6.4 implies that it's OK to give this personal information in certain situations. It's really not.

I would add the concept of "information control." Who controls information on the Internet? You? The people who own the server or the blog, etc.? Privacy controls in Facebook mean nothing if Facebook is mining data from the back. How is the information being used? (we don't know yet but we have some pretty good ideas) Get kids thinking about the profit motivation behind social media sites and what that means for users.

Finally are you trading your personal, legal information for free Internet space and is that OK with you? It is possible (and smart and ethical) to create an online identity that is not linked to your legal identity. Your model completely ignores that possibility.

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

Good stuff. Now, if we could only expect the same of our teachers.


March 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Ed Hockersmith

Hi Jackie,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, especially about skill 6. This is a first go at performance objective and can be improved.

All the best,


Hi Ed,

Idealist that I am, I'd like to expect more from out teachers. But I get you drift.


March 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I think traditional conventions could learn a lot from the idea! I'm so glad you had a great experience! Thanks for sharing! Ricky

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHTTP

Thanks, We have been having discussions about a list of ten task that we would like students to complete on several devices such as Chromebook, tablet, laptop, smartphone, etc. We could then use that data to make a better decision about what device to buy in a 1:1 environment. This is a great list to pull from.

Many schools are going the tablet route. In my opinion, tablets are great but not necessarily the best device to do all the skills mentioned above. I personally like the idea of a Chromebook and BYO Smart Phone. Or even better, get them a Chromebook, Nexus 7, and let them use their phone. After all that basically what many adults do today.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBigEd95

BigEd95 - What are the 10 tasks that you've been discussing?

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGH

Hi Big Ed,

There is certainly no perfect device. We're going tablets because of the simplicity of use and the rear facing camera for movie making and digital photography. I am sure there are things we'll not be able to do with them as well.

Appreciate the comment,


March 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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