2003 Testing and Assessment Archive
Trouble with Testing
Standards-based assessment really sounds quite wonderful. Yet, in most educational settings, it is a flat-out fraud. Any sort of beneath-the-surface look at today's standards-based assessment will soon reveal that this alluringly labeled breed of testing is simply loaded with artifice. Standards-based tests typically don't measure the skills and knowledge they purport to measure. They also don't, as is claimed, help educators do a better instructional job. Standards-based assessment, clearly, is not what it pretends.
High Stakes, High Risk
As most of us know by now, the No Child Left Behind Act mandates a massive increase in state assessments, which mostly means standardized tests. We also know that the stakes attached to those tests are high. It would be worth enduring these difficulties if we could be reasonably sure that the test-driven changes would produce improved learning opportunities and outcomes. Unfortunately, evidence and reason argue they will not.
Too Soon to Test
It's a rite of passage: Parents start calling in September to ask about preparing their 4- and 5-year-olds for kindergarten screening in the spring. Kindergarten screenings aren't always what they seem—or what they should be. Many schools are replacing developmental screening with readiness screening. Especially troubling is the fact that the most commonly used standardized screening instruments are not psychometrically sound and do not accurately predict students' success in the early grades.
Data to Count On
Are your students improving? By asking this simple question, the accountability movement is compelling schools to look at student achievement. As state and federal governments set specific benchmarks for achievement, schools must find ways to meet those benchmarks and show growth in concrete, measurable ways.