Standards Report Roundup

Challenges Outlined for Common Standards Tests

By Catherine Gewertz & Mary Ann Zehr — May 24, 2011 1 min read

Three new papers highlight some of the challenges two consortia of states face as they design tests for the new common-core standards.

Released this month by two nonprofit groups, the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, and Policy Analysis for California Education, or PACE, the papers separately address three topics: computer-based and computer-adaptive tests, assessments for English-language learners, and tests for science.

The paper by Mark D. Reckase, a professor of measurement and quantitative methods at Michigan State University, cautions that while computer-based and computer-adaptive tests offer the possibility of improving assessment, getting them right presents significant challenges.

He details the advantages of each method, including, for computer-adaptive, dispensing with the need to try to measure wide ranges of student ability with only the set of test items printed in a booklet, and he notes key challenges in moving from from paper and pencil to computer.

The paper on English-learners, written by Robert Linquanti, a researcher from the WestEd research group, says states should pay particular attention to how formative tests can improve outcomes for English-language learners. And Harvard University researchers Chris Dede and Jody Clarke-Midura argue in the science paper for testing measures that are richer and more authentic than traditional multiple-choice tests.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 25, 2011 edition of Education Week as Papers Explore Testing Issues For Standards

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