Vander Ark: The End of the Big Test

competency-based-assessment

Reposted from Getting Smart:

To get at the heart of value creation, Clayton Christensen taught us to think about the job to be done. Assessment plays four important roles in school systems:

  • Inform learning: continuous data feed that informs students, teachers, and parents about the learning process.
  • Manage matriculation: certify that students have learned enough to move on and ultimately graduate.
  • Evaluate educators: data to inform the practice and development of educators.
  • Check quality: dashboard of information about school quality particularly what students know and can do and how fast they are progressing.

Initiated in the dark ages of data poverty, state tests were asked to do all these jobs. As political stakes grew, psychometricians and lawyers pushed for validity and reliability and the tests got longer in an attempt to fulfill all four roles.

With so much protest, it may go without saying but the problem with week long summative tests is that they take too much time to administer; they don’t provide rapid and useful feedback for learning and progress management (jobs 1&2); and test preparation rather than preparation for college, careers, and citizenship has become the mission of school. And, with no student benefit many young people don’t try very hard and increasingly opt out. But it is no longer necessary or wise to ask one test to do so many jobs when better, faster, cheaper data is available from other sources.

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