Sara Aronin and Michael O'Neal penned a great article in the Summer 2011 edition of Science Scope magazine entitled "Twenty Ways To Assess Students Using Technology". It provides a number of innovative ideas for ways students can demonstrate mastery of content in unique, authentic, engaging ways. Products that students create are embedded with critical 21st century skills that our students need to exercise on a daily basis in the classroom.
The 20th century was for teacher directed learning.
The 21st century is for student centered demonstrations of mastery.
Ohio has just announced that PARCC will be the test vendor for the new Common Core assessments.
My concern is that their idea of 21st century assessment (how many times will they use the word 'innovative' in their literature?) will be to take 20th century selected response items and computerize them. This would lead to more of the same in the classroom (a narrowing of the curriculum in order to ensure that students only pick the one correct response) and this is incompatible with 21st century skills students desperately need to compete in the global economy.
The new assessments will drive instruction and learning for better or worse. I hope (but doubt) that policy makers will think carefully about the damage they are inflicting by measuring accountability using single, constrained metrics.
Here is a slide from the November 2011 PARCC powerpoint describing the efficiencies of their system:
PARCC’s assessment will be computer-based and leverage technology in a range of ways:
–Develop innovative tasks that engage students in the assessment process
–Increase access to and provision of accommodations for SWDs and ELLs
–Make scoring more efficient by combining human and automated approaches
–Produce timely reports of students performance throughout the year to inform instructional, interventions, and professional development
I've take the liberty to redline the codewords for multiple choice items (in my opinion).
Here's a portion of another slide about the types of items PARCC will be using:
•Summative Assessment Components:
–Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) administered as close to the end of the school year as possible.The ELA/literacy PBA will focus on writing effectively when analyzing text. The mathematics PBA will focus on applying skills, concepts, and understandings to solve multi-step problems requiring abstract reasoning, precision, perseverance, and strategic use of tools
–End-of-Year Assessment (EOY) administered after approx. 90% of the school year.The ELA/literacy EOY will focus on reading comprehension.The math EOY will be comprised of innovative, machine-scorable items
Some lingering questions include how many PBA questions will there be, what percentage of a student's summative score will the PBA questions count for, and will there be anything other than selected response questions on the EOY assessment?
The common core espouses collaborative, authentic project based and problem based learning. This will not occur if the assessment students are subject to and teachers are accountable for values single pathways to correctness.