NPR on Annual Assessments

NPR has a story today, somewhat mis-titled as What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests (HT: @mcleod), on alternatives to the current NCLB/ESEA accountability scheme.

One suggestion is to move to sampling, “the same tests, just fewer of ’em.” Perhaps not a bad idea (depending on which test is picked as “the same test”), though pity the children who win the lottery to sit for the tests.

Some of the other suggestions are quite horrifying to me, relying upon massive data gathering operations. “Stealth assessments” would reduce or eliminate the need for accountability tests through constant monitoring of children through day-to-day computer-based learning activities. Or multiple measures that include social and emotional skills surveys. Or video-game-like assessments meant to test things like “the ability to take feedback”.

A suggestion, missing here, that I would like to see get serious consideration is to move towards “basic competency tests” for accountability purposes, like the ones described by H. Wu in Assessments for the Common Core Mathematics Standards.

Time is short for blogging these past few days, but I haven’t forgotten that I have promised a few more posts on the assessment task force. I don’t know whether a snow day bodes well for blogging or not, but I will get to them soon.