My (Unexpected) Response to an Online Standardized Test

With all the controversy regarding online standardized testing, I’ve not weighed in with any significant position, largely because I was not overly swayed either way.  That changed this weekend, as I took the CoSN CETL Immersion Course and corresponding test.  The immersion course was an adjunct activity at the CoSN national conference and focused on their established Framework of Essential Skills.  The workshop was two days of interesting conversations with other technology leaders from around the country.  Unfortunately, the online assessment was subjective and a single representation of one’s understanding of a wide variety of topics.  It cannot capture one’s mastery of the topics and reinforces the very types of assessment we are collectively trying to move away from.

Fortunately it was not really high stakes for me, as I am a veteran technology director with a fairly successful track record.  However, if advancement in my job or an evaluation of my performance were based on the results, I would not be so casual in my response.

So, lesson learned this week?  Online, high stakes assessments make no sense, improperly categorize or label the students who take them and stress out the teachers who ultimately are measured in part on their students’ achievement.  A true demonstration of one’s capabilities is best determined what s/he can create, communicate, or otherwise demonstrate in real world activities.  Our efforts to measure success with a multiple choice test that may or may not reflect the learning our communities value is foolhardy.

My suggestion:  All proponents of high stakes standardized testing must take the assessments themselves PRIOR to students taking them.  After clicking the “submit” button, their scores should be irrevocably posted to the same media they use to assert their misguided agenda.

…and yes, I passed the assessment.

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