Students take online tests. (Sarah Garland / Sarah Garland) Students take online tests. (Sarah Garland / Sarah Garland)

I recently wrote about a Maryland Education Department report that said the vast majority of schools in many of the state’s counties are not technologically prepared to give new online Common Core-aligned standardized tests, and  at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready.

The report, done for the state legislature, underscores the great challenges states across the country face in preparing for the new exams. The report was interesting not only for its detail but because Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery recently told Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) that she did not foresee big problems with technology in regard to implementing new Common Core tests. In December, O’Malley,  at a Board of Public Works meeting, said to Lowery: “Describe for me how much of this is an IT challenge and how much of this is a testing and education. [challenge]?”  She gave a long response, and then said, “It’s the testing, not the IT.”

On Tuesday, President Obama detailed a plan to  give 20 million more students access to high-speed Internet connections at the nation’s schools and libraries, with the Federal Communications Commission dedicating $2 billion to the effort and several private companies — including Apple, Verizon, Sprint and Microsoft — committing $750 million. Obama said he hopes that 99 percent of U.S. students will have high-speed access to the Internet within five years. States are expecting to start giving newly designed Common Core tests in 2014-15, although many will wind up giving paper versions because they won’t have the technological capability to test all students online.

Here’s the actual report detailing the problems in 11 Maryland counties that were surveyed: