Standardized exams that played a very important role in American public education are being modernized. In the nearest four years 44 states will receive $330 million to create new ways of assessment for students. Bubble tests in math and multiple-choice tests will be changed to new tests in 2014-15 school years. New tests are being redesigned in order to assess the academic standards acquired by students in recent months in math and English especially.
According to the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, new tests will be computerized. The advantage of these exams is that they will measure students’ ability to conduct research projects, read complex texts etc. In other words, all those higher-order skills will be measured that are not assessed by the present-day tests.
Mr. Duncan noted in his custom essay: “The use of smarter technology in assessments makes it possible to assess students by asking them to design products of experiments, to manipulate parameters, run tests and record data.”
The new tests will be computer-based and students will take them several times during the school year. This will help teachers to value students’ knowledge and make hints of what is to be retaught. Bruce Fuller, an education professor at Berkeley, says: “If these plans work out, it’ll turn the current testing system upside down”.
According to Elena Silva, a senior policy analyst at Education Sector, two assessing groups are supposed to compete with each one, although their plans are “strikingly similar”. The test will include not only those which are similar to end-of-year tests, but also formative tests. Some of them will have a character of real-world situations. Several experts say that these new tests could be used by teachers as they give information on what students have learned and that is why they will have even to rewrite some of their lessons and adapt classes to make use of the testing results.
Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research and a former commissioner of the arm of the Education Department that oversees federal testing, says: “This could be one of the greatest challenges our teaching force has ever faced, to teach the new concepts embedded in the English and math standards, and to adapt to these new tests”.