When asked about the problems associated with standardized testing -- cheating, overtesting, blunt measures of student achievement -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan often points to a duo of "next-generation assessments" funded by federal money.
But a new survey, which consulting group Whiteboard Advisors plans to publish this week, suggests that "education insiders" aren't so sure that the one of the new tests will resolve all of the issues with standardized testing. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported that they believe the Smarter, Balanced Assessment Coalition, one of the two state-based consortia developing the tests, is on the wrong track.
"Smarter Balanced seems to have started with a misdiagnosis of the testing program to begin with, and then gone from there," one respondent wrote.
These new tests are funded by $330 million in stimulus money through the federal Race to the Top competition and are intended to measure critical thinking, particularly the critical skills emphasized by the Common Core State Standards, the set of educational standards most states have agreed to adopt. The tests, by SBAC and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, will both be administered mostly on computers and will feature more open-ended questions than the traditional "fill in the bubble" exams to which students have grown accustomed. But only SBAC is a "computer adaptive test," which means that it conforms to a student's performance during testing (if a student does poorly, the questions will get easier).
Test developers will also provide states with "curriculum maps" that suggest lesson plans based on tested material. One of the biggest departures is that the exams will be spread over the school year and will be similar across states.
"Both are mediocre at best," one survey respondent wrote. "Neither has staying power."
The tests are also supposed to be implemented by 2014. But according to the survey, respondents are doubtful, with 45 percent of them saying that they don't think the tests will be ready by then.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Standardized Tests Of Tomorrow Behind Schedule
This from the Huffington Post: