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NCLB Outrages

Test Industry Split Over Formative'Assessment

Monty Neill comment:

Seems like only Advanced Systems, whose president Stuart Kahl has written good pieces on formative assessment as Ed Wee ads, is the only test company taking a clear stand against turning formative assessment into 'benchmark' or 'interim' mini-tests to use in cashing in on the NCLB-enforced testing boom.

I was reminded how in the 1990s, advocates of a range of high-quality sources of evidence of student learning insisted on using the term assessment. Soon enough, test companies declared all their tests were 'assessments' or 'assessment tests,' and SAT even used that latter term in its name, before they decided SAT stood for nothing.

It's hard to hang onto meaning in the Orwellian world of advertizing in which money buys the definition of words, a useful power for confusion and profiteering.

by Scott J. Cech

There’s a war of sorts going on within the normally staid assessment industry, and it’s a war over the definition of a type of assessment that many educators understand in only the sketchiest fashion.

Formative assessments, also known as “classroom assessments,” are in some ways easier to define by what they are not. They’re not like the long, year-end, state-administered, standardized, No Child Left Behind Act-required exams that testing professionals call “summative.” Nor are they like the shorter, middle-of-the-year assessments referred to as “benchmark” or “interim” assessments.

Or they shouldn’t be, at least according to experts inside and outside the testing industry, who believe that truly “formative” assessments must blend seamlessly into classroom instruction itself. . . .

Later, the article indicates that "tests, test delivery, scoring, scoring analysis, professional development, and other services, but not such bundled products as textbooks, accounted for about 30 percent of the $2.1 billion in overall assessment revenue generated in the United States in the 2006-07 academic year—the most recent year for which statistics are available."

Education Week editors don't like articles to be posted. For the rest of the article, go here.

— Scott J. Cech
Education Week


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