Testing Column

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Pennsylvania may soon require students to sign their names to statewide tests so that they take them more seriously.

Students now do not identify themselves on the exams, which monitor the performance of schools rather than of individuals. But last month, the state board of education voted 11 to 2 to give preliminary approval to the change.

The board also proposed telling students and their parents how they did on the assessments, although individual test results would not be forwarded to the state.

"A lot of people believe that parents have the right to find out how their own children have done on the tests,'' said Gary Tuma, a spokesman for the state education department.

The board also voted 12 to 1 to administer the tests on an annual basis in all school districts, instead of once every three years. Giving the tests in reading, writing, and mathematics more often would cost the state an added $500,000 a year.

The proposals must still be reviewed by the legislature and an independent regulatory-review commission. The public may also submit written comments.

Final approval by the board is not expected until July at the earliest. If approved, the changes would take effect in March 1995.

The best assessment practices in vocational education resemble the alternative assessments now being explored for the rest of the K-12 system, a new report from the Office of Technology Assessment concludes.

According to "Testing and Assessment in Vocational Education,'' such measures range from student portfolios to organized competitive events. Although their quality varies widely, nearly all of the assessments are criterion-referenced--they measure what students know and can do for particular jobs, rather than how they perform relative to others.

The American Federation of Teachers is launching a new publication series to help educators understand what "world class'' standards mean.

The series will translate student assessments and curriculum materials from abroad. Copies of the first volume, "What College-Bound Students Abroad Are Expected to Know About Biology,'' will be available in late April for $10 each from Biology Book, A.F.T. Educational Issues Department, 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. 20001.

Vol. 13, Issue 29

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