Tests Worth Teaching To

Greetings Blogosphere!
It’s your friendly assessment nerd, Porter again :)

Tonight, a link to an interesting article came across my Twitter feed. It is an Op-Ed by E.D. Hirsch in the NY Times. Don Hirsch founded the Core Knowledge Foundation in 1986. They are the folks who publish the What Your Kindergartner–Sixth Grader Needs to Know series. Hirsch also wrote The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, which is a best-seller and an amazing book!

In Hirsch’s article  “Reading Test Dummies,” he reminds us that multiple choice tests are “technically among the most reliable and valid tests available.”(I have such a passion for technology that I lose sight of that sometimes.) Hirsch says this format is not the immediate change he would make to tests. He would concentrate on making the tests more instructionally sensitive.  Hirsch asks us to consider using “reading passages from each grade’s specific curricular content in literature, science, history, geography and the arts, the tests would exhibit what researchers call ‘consequential validity’ — meaning that the tests would actually help improve education.”

His last paragraph was far better written than I can summarize, so I’ll end by quoting. “We do not need to abandon either the principle of accountability or the fill-in-the-bubble format. Rather we need to move from teaching to the test to tests that are worth teaching to.”

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