NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Asks Educators to Reinvent Student Tests, and How They Are Given

September 7, 2010

Standardized exams -- the multiple-choice, bubble-in tests for math and reading -- are being overhauled.  Over the next four years, two groups of states, 44 in all, will get $330 million to work with hundreds of university professors and testing experts to design a series of new assessments that officials say will look very different from those in use today, says the New York Times.

  • One group, led by Florida, will be made up of 25 states and the District of Columbia.  Among its members are several large states like California, Illinois and New York.  Known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the group was awarded $170 million.
  • The other group, whose membership overlaps the first, has 31 states and is led by Washington.  It includes other Western states like Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah, as well as some in the East, like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.  The group, which won $160 million, calls itself the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

The new tests are to be ready for the 2014-2015 school year.  They will be computer-based and will measure higher-order skills ignored by the multiple-choice exams used in nearly every state, including students' ability to read complex texts, synthesize information and do research projects, says the Times.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan set aside $350 million from the billions that Congress voted last year for the Race to the Top grant competition to finance the testing initiative.  The department has not yet said what it will do with the $20 million not awarded to either group of states, says the Times.

Source:  Sam Dillon, "U.S. Asks Educators to Reinvent Student Tests, and How They Are Given," New York Times, September 2, 2010.

For text:


Browse more articles on Education Issues