All K-12 schools are accustomed to receiving WiFi surveys to ensure that the WiFi will cover all of the necessary areas in the school. When you start doing NWEA and PARCC testing, however, you will need to do some more in depth research.
The first step is figuring out how many devices will be in each classroom. If you are thinking about going 1:1 this becomes even more critical. A solid, high-density WiFi is essential for success. We think that most districts should work towards a single access point per each classroom. Think of it this way, each classroom has around thirty students with school supplied devices. Your access points need to handle that amount of internet traffic.
You also need to consider what grade level the students are at. While some of the younger students will not yet bring in devices from home, with the older kids it is a give in. If you do not hide the WiFi, these home brought devices from staff and students will all try to attach at once. You will need to make adjustments to ensure that the devices are attaching where they are supposed to. However, getting the devices hooked up to the WiFi is only part of the equation.
There are many questions that you will need to find an answer to before you are ready for a 1:1 infrastructure for your district. You need to ask yourself a series of questions to ensure that you have everything covered. Figure out how many of the access points in classrooms are hooked up to a single switch and how fast the connection from from that switch back to your network core is. You also need to find out how fast your firewall can inspect the packets in your internet traffic, and how fast your internet access is. Take into consideration what internet service you’re currently using and if you would like to switch providers or not. Even the brand of hardware and how well you are standardized on your network equipment can become a huge issue for your district.
Luckily, there are practice tests and programs to evaluate the workstation you’re currently using. These practice tests can determine if you are ready because unless you have three classrooms full of endpoints running testing next to each other you just don’t know. An engineer with experience can also help push you in the direction of success.
The best piece of advice we have for you is to not cut corners.