Tag Archive for: CCSS

The Huffington Post recently published an article discussing the role that computerized adaptive testing (CAT) plays in K-12 educational assessment.  It presents some of the issues in the field of standardized testing, and then discusses how adaptive testing in education can address some of those issues.

This article is a refreshing departure from those typically seen in the mainstream media, which often complain about student assessment without taking the time to become informed on the topic, most notably understanding all the benefits that it provides and advantages over alternatives.  In fact, the article specifically notes that much of the debate going on just completely misses the point.  I recently read an article in a parenting magazine that was on the other end of the spectrum, bordering on fear-mongering sensationalism.

Some of the advantages of adaptive testing in education discussed:

  • CAT helps refocus learning on instruction
  • CAT can reduce the “corruptive pressures” and teaching to the test
  • CAT can enhance security: there are no bubble sheets, which completely eliminates the possibility of teacher modification, and can provide accommodations automatically, greatly reducing the chance of teachers cheating during the accommodation process (e.g., reading the test questions to a student)
  • CAT provides more accurate scores for high-ability and low ability students, and for disabled students
  • CAT tests can cost less and typically take much less time to administer (research suggests 50% less time testing)

Of course, CAT is not a panacea to all the problems facing student assessment, much less our educational system.  However, it has been shown to have numerous benefits, supported by a large body of scientific literature.  The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium has the right idea in utilizing CAT technology to meet the assessment needs of its member states.  I am eagerly looking forward to seeing how those endeavors turn out.

Here is the full article URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/darrell-west/how-technology-can-stop-c_b_3784392.html

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The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is an important piece of US legislation that governs assessment in the K-12 education system.  It is currently up for re-authorization, and language is being considered that will specifically mention computerized adaptive testing (CAT).

“Adaptive testing is proven to be a more effective tool for assessing student performance and competence than standard paper-based testing that only shows whether a student is on grade level.”

-Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisconsin

Adaptive testing and NCLB work well together, as the advantages of adaptive testing translate well into the classroom as well as to accountability systems.

CAT continues to grow more widespread, especially in relation to the SMARTER Balanced Consortium.  However, most online CAT delivery platforms remain too expensive for many school districts.  FastTest offers an affordable alternative that will deliver CAT assessments which help prepare students for this more sophisticated and precise form of educational assessment.

Read the full article from EdWeek here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/07/house_nclb_rewrite_contains_ad.html.

The quote below is from a newsletter released by the SMARTER Balanced Consortium.  Obviously, purchasing student assessments directly from the Consortium will remain expensive, though less expensive than what many states currently pay private vendors.

FastTest , on the other hand, remains exceptionally affordable.  You can utilize our adaptive testing platform to create formative assessments – with the same CAT algorithms, hence a perfect preparation for SMARTER summative assessments – at a fraction of the cost, especially if your district or state has their own item bank.  Contact us to learn how we can help.

Fiction: The costs of these tests are unknown.

Fact: Smarter Balanced has released cost estimates for its assessments that include expenses for ongoing research and development of the assessment system as well as test administration and scoring. The end-of-year summative assessment alone is estimated to cost $22.50 per student. The full suite of summative, interim, and formative assessments is estimated to cost $27.30 per student. These costs are less than the amount that two-thirds of the Consortium’s member states currently pay. These costs are estimates because a sizable portion of the cost is for test administration and scoring services that will not be provided by Smarter Balanced; states will either provide these services directly or procure them from vendors in the private sector.[/dropshadowbox]

The efforts of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium are leading to more mentions of computerized adaptive testing in the news.  I recently came across the following article that covers a paper by Mark Reckase, one of the most respected researchers in the field.


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