Arkansas was among several dozen states chosen to participate in federally backed projects to reshape student testing.
Here's an overview of the two major competing efforts from the New York Times. They'll receive $330 million to design tests for use beginning in 2014-15.
They will be computer-based, [Education Secretary Arne] Mr. Duncan said, 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.
“The use of smarter technology in assessments,” Mr. Duncan said, “makes it possible to assess students by asking them to design products of experiments, to manipulate parameters, run tests and record data.”
Because the new tests will be computerized and will be administered several times throughout the school year, they are expected to provide faster feedback to teachers than the current tests about what students are learning and what might need to be retaught.
A national standard on such testing — with no state-by-state variables on pass rates — likely would produce some shocking results. Not of the good kind. But maybe I'll be surprised.
(Arkansas is a participant in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.)