Education

Downsizing Tests?

By Bryan Toporek — December 29, 2009 1 min read

Jay Mathews of The Washington Post suggests one innovative way to reduce standardized testing loads for stressed students: Shorten the tests.

Terry Paul, co-founder with his wife Judi of Renaissance Learning, Inc., gave me recently a draft of a short paper he has written suggesting a way to reduce the strain of state testing under the No Child Left Behind Act, or whatever replaces it. He says we should emulate the tests his company's Accelerated Reader program gives to ensure students understand books they have read. That means making the tests short, maybe as little as 15 minutes.
This idea is too wild to go anywhere, but Paul is no nut. He is a thoughtful businessman who helped create the nation's most successful program for encouraging book reading. He notes research that indicates a 15 minute test can "provide similar reliability to a 50 minute paper assessment."

Mathews hopes this kind of idea could spur adaptive testing. What’s your reaction to using the Accelerated Reader as a model for downsizing tests?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.