Are new online standardized tests revolutionary? Decide for yourself.

New high-tech standardized tests are coming soon to schools across the country, but will these new tests really revolutionize how we measure whether children are learning? The designers of the new tests, which a majority of states plan to adopt in two years, are allowing a sneak peek at sample questions, so you can decide for yourself.

Two competing state coalitions have taken on the job of designing the new tests, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and both have posted examples of what’s coming on their websites.

In some questions, which the test designers have called “computer enhanced,” students will be asked to drag words or numbers across the screen, or to highlight phrases or sentences in a reading passage. In one example provided by Smarter Balanced to reporters during a conference call Monday, high school students can click on the screen to transfer water from a cube to a cylinder, which helps them solve a math problem about radius.

Fifth graders at Townsend Elementary in the Appoquinimink district waiting to begin the state standardized reading test. (Photo by Sarah Garland)

There will also be problems that require research and writing. Smarter Balanced officials gave an example of a multi-part question in which high school students are asked to imagine they are the chief of staff for a congresswoman. Before they start working on the test, their teacher is supposed to lead a classroom activity about nuclear power. The students are then asked to come up with a list of pros and cons about nuclear power. Finally, they must write up a presentation for the congresswoman to give at a press conference later that day.

“I can tell you, that’s real world,” said Barbara Kapinus, the director of English language arts and literacy for Smarter Balanced. “I’ve been in that situation.”

Many questions will continue to be multiple-choice, however. States have favored multiple-choice tests because they are cheaper to design and score, and since answer sheets can be run through a computer. Questions like the one about nuclear power are more expensive, because they will likely require a trained evaluator to score them.

One of the biggest concerns about the new tests has been how to finance them. The two coalitions designing the tests won grants from the federal government to pay for the beginning of the process, but this funding won’t cover ongoing expenses related to the tests, like paying people to score answer sheets and the cost of new computers and expanded bandwidth.

In the conference call with reporters, the director of Smarter Balanced, Joe Willhoft, said states that have signed on for the tests have agreed to pay annual administrative fees associated with the tests. “The lion’s share of those costs is bundled up in the human scoring,” he said.


POSTED BY ON October 9, 2012

Comments & Trackbacks (15) | Post a Comment

S. Ada

The very idea that only math, science and language arts are being tested in this manner should indicate that something is unbalanced in the education system. Standardized testing is a thing of the past. It has reared its ugly head again as a knee-jerk reaction to larger problems in western education. Do your students a huge favour. Say no to standardized testing.

G Donald Allen

The two math problems, one with swimmers and the other about solving a quadratic, were well done. The animation for the swimmers was unnecessary. Nonetheless, the upshot from my viewpoint is that if this is the type of question to be asked, this is the type of question that will find its way into the curriculum. Students will be taught to solve such questions, not conceptually but via procedure and skills, as usual. Finally, the questions given take much resources and skills and expense to develop and deploy, and therefore will be extremely difficult to change – an often neglected factor.

Also, the human scoring component will drive way up the already expensive testing procedures.

Dee

With the help of advanced technology in cognitive and computer sciences, we are approaching the time when descriptive written answers can be reliably auto graded. This will be one of the paradigm shifts of our Education systems. Teachers will be able to use their time to provide higher quality creative assessments.

[...] couple of days ago the HechingerEd blog—from the education-centric Hechinger Repor—published a post looking at preliminary testing items from the two consortia hand-picked by the Obama administration [...]

[...] couple of days ago the HechingerEd blog—from the education-centric Hechinger Report—published a post looking at preliminary testing items from the two consortia hand-picked by the Obama administration [...]

[...] couple of days ago the HechingerEd blog—from the education-centric Hechinger Report—published a post looking at preliminary testing items from the two consortia hand-picked by the Obama administration [...]

[...] couple of days ago the HechingerEd blog—from the education-centric Hechinger Report—published a post looking at preliminary testing items from the two consortia hand-picked by the Obama administration [...]

Is Common Core about to Melt Down?

[...] couple of days ago the HechingerEd blog—from the education-centric Hechinger Report—published a post looking at preliminary testing items from the two consortia hand-picked by the Obama administration [...]

Maureen

Chicago Public Schools has already mandated this type of online testing for all kids, even kindergartners. Follow the link for one kindergartner teacher’s experience. The children are upset, crying, embarrassed and ashamed at not knowing how to complete the test.

A simpleton would have known this is not developmentally appropriate. Why not ed reformers?

And, so what if Barbara Kipinius once coughed out press releases for a congressman under a deadline.

Does she really think that her work experience should be designed into a standardized test? What are her education credentials that permit her to make that claim? REad what is really happening in the classroom and why the teacher evaluations will not be based on good data. It is a sham.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/10/11/this-is-crazy-testing-in-kindergarten-for-what/

Andrew

There was an error in the rubric for the math question about swimmers. Example says 3 would be tied for 1st place. Actually 2 would tie for 1st and 3 would tie for second. oops!

I hope no student’s future is destroyed by that one.

Andrew

Also on the swimmers question, has anyone taking into consideration the additional 23 seconds that would be required to answer this question due to the animation? The animation seems more an embellishment than informative, clarifying, or necessary AND requires 23 seconds before the information required to respond to the question is displayed. Doesn’t sound like much, but if there are 50 items, adding 23 seconds to each one would mean the student would need an additional 19 minutes to complete the test.

[...] Report Are new online standardized tests revolutionary?   New high-tech tests for the Common Core standards are being developed, but will these exams [...]

[...] Same old song? The designers of new high-tech standardized tests that a majority of states plan to adopt in two years have offered an advance look at sample questions, writes Sarah Garland in The Hechinger Report. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has posted an English/Language arts question and a math question, and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted a sample question from its third grade assessment and a sample math question from its high school assessment. It has also been revealed that in some questions, which test designers call “computer enhanced,” students will be asked to drag words or numbers across the screen, or highlight phrases or sentences in a reading passage. Many questions will continue to be multiple-choice, however, since multiple-choice tests are cheaper to design and score, and answer sheets can be run through a computer. Questions and tests that require writing and research are more expensive and likely require a trained evaluator for scoring, and one of the biggest concerns about the new tests has been how to finance them. The two coalitions designing the tests won federal grants to launch the process, but this funding won’t cover ongoing expenses related to the tests, such as paying people to score answer sheets and the cost of new computers and expanded bandwidth. Read more: http://hechingered.org/content/are-new-online-standardized-tests-revolutionary-decide-for-yourself_5… [...]

[...] Are new online standardized tests revolutionary? Decide for yourself is from The HechingerEd blog. [...]

[...] Are new online standardized tests revolutionary? Decide for yourself is from The HechingerEd blog. [...]

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