Home > Uncategorized > A Preposterous Call for State Assessments Based on Flawed Logic Will Yield Worthless Data

A Preposterous Call for State Assessments Based on Flawed Logic Will Yield Worthless Data

December 6, 2020

Forbes contributor Jim Cowen calls for the Biden administration to insist that states administer high stakes tests to all children based on the thinking that the test results will inform policy decisions going forward. This paragraph explains his thinking:

Fortunately, we know that chief state school officers are working with assessment providers to weigh options and chart a path forward for implementation in the spring. Statewide assessments are not subject to the same strict scientific method as NAEP and can still provide valuable information about student learning, meaning states and assessment providers can get more creative about capturing student learning this school year. In addition, state assessment vendors are already working on ways to provide flexibility around the length of the test, timeliness of the results and the ability to proctor remotely to ensure safety.

There are at least three problems with his logic.

First, we don’t need to give tests to children who don’t have internet access to know that they learned less than children who DID have access.

Second, how can the results of an assessment that has a “flexible” design be compared to a test that is rigorously designed in a fashion that offers some kind of validity in year-to-year growth?

Thirdly, given the wildly divergent formats of schooling that resulted from the pandemic and the decision of states to make the formats a LOCAL decision how can any meaningful data from a statewide assessment be useful?

I suspect that Mr. Cowen might be afraid that if tests go by the wayside THIS year that they might be abandoned altogether and his notion that assessments have value might be abandoned as well. Count me in as one who hopes that the pandemic signals the end of the test-and-punish era.


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