Take a Peek at a Potential Alternative to Standardized Tests

May 30, 2008 1 min read

NCLB’s testing rules have come under criticism from in Education Week’s commentary page, during prime-time, and on the campaign trail.

But it’s still unclear to me what an alternative testing program would be like. Would it be able to deliver results that can be compared across schools? Would it yield consistent results from one year to the next? Would its content cover a range of topics across the curriculum?

If, like me, you’re wondering about these issues, you may want to log into a live Web event today. In it, the Coalition of Essential Schools will demonstrate and explain the way it assesses high school students’ work on a long-term, in-depth project. They compare these so-called exhibitions to the defense of doctoral dissertation. The exhibitions are now required across the state of Rhode Island, and they could be an alternative to standardized testing under NCLB, the coalition says in a news release announcing the event. At the Huffington Post, teacher-turned-blogger Dan Brown calls the exhibitions a “brilliant idea to improve schools.”

The Web event starts at 2 p.m. Eastern and 11 a.m. Pacific. You can register for the event at this URL. For those of you who can’t watch live, the event will be archived.

EXTRA CREDIT READING: If you want to know more about where the Coalition of Essential Schools may stand on NCLB issues, read the report released last month by the Forum for Education and Democracy. Although the groups are separate organizations, the groups’ leadership comes from the same pool of people (Ted Sizer, Deb Meier, George Wood). In fact, the Forum for Education and Democracy formed a CES conference a few years ago. I wrote a front-page story about the report for Education Week, and I wrote a blog item suggesting that Washington insiders don’t expect policymakers to make changes as dramatic as the forum would like.

UPDATE: Bill Tucker from Ed Sector saw student exhibitions in Rhode Island this week. Over at the Quick and the Ed, he sounds impressed.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.