Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Standardized Testing

Had an interesting experience today with contrasting two types of testing. Our elementary students are engaged in using the NWEA's Measure of Academic Progress. This is an adaptive test that is standards based. For the students, it means they keep on getting harder questions until they start getting wrong answers. Once they are getting about half of the questions right, the system is able to establish a level for them. Every student gets a unique test that is tailor made for them. Tests are untimed and students have as much time as they desire. Results are available in about 24 hours.

In contrast, this afternoon I proctored an ITBS test. This is the same old format as when we were all in school. Test book, fill in the bubbles. Limited time.

Both of these modes of operation are unusual for me. Seeing kids working quietly and individually is not what I'm used to. I'm used to a lot more chatter between students, and a lot more working with students to help them master materials and concepts. How can collaborative skills be measured? How often are students going to be asked to rely on what they've learned? I wonder if it is possible to create a standardized test where one gives a group of students an entirely new task and ask them to come up with a solution. In some way measuring their ability to learn within certain constraints. That seems like a better measure of the skills they'll need.

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