Re: Test drama in Chicago
- Subject: Re: Test drama in Chicago
- From: Monty Neill <Mneillft@AOL.COM>
- Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 10:23:54 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
A note: Dave's listing of the Substance address had an incomplete email
address: it is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Bob asked if ETS was dragged into court and forced to disclose some of its
questions on the SAT. Close, not quite. A legislative battle in New York led
to passage of a law requiring, only for college admissions tests, that the
testmaker return to the test taker, at the taker's request, a copy of the
test, including the taker's responses and the wanted ("correct") answers.
Because New York is so large, ETS and other testmakers have offered the same
thing across the country, though not for every test administration: for some,
students can request their answers, etc., for other administrations, they
However, this law does not pertain either to testing in the schools or to
Some states do release items. Massachusetts releases 80 percent of them, and
does so voluntarily. I think Maine does the same (80 \% released) and I am
sure there are a few other states, don't recall which ones, and am sure it is
a distinct minority. In both Ohio and Texas, lawsuits filed by parents
succeeded in forcing the state to release the items after test administration.
In both cases, the state complained it would raise the costs because they
would have to write all new items every year and make sure each new test was
highly comparable to the previous tests. Whether they have succeeded in the
equating aspect I do not know, but they are creating new tests annually.
Obviously, then, it can be done -- but Oregon (which is trying to get Bill
Bigelow fired from his teaching job because he used a few items in a newspaper
article), and now Chicago have decided to use "heavy manners" in response to
making the exam public. I do not know of any other pending lawsuits.
In Mass, the release of the items has enabled a close scrutiny of the exam,
and many flawed items were found and publicized; the fact that most of the
grade 4 reading passages are really grade 5 and 6 reading levels got exposed;
etc. Of course this can lead to making a better test as well as to undermining
respect for the test.
Jonathan asked: <<Assuming a group, were there
other effective, available venues for the teachers to use to protest
the tests? Did they make any attempt to go the legal, or public
process routes first, before taking this approach? If not, why not?>>
I do not have any detailed information about the Substance group and so cannot
talke about their process. But I do know that the Chicago Public Schools, and
the mayor who selects its administrators, support a test-driven approach. They
most certainly do their best to intimidate, harass, co-opt, etc., all their
opposition. Critical research studies are simply dismissed. Thus, the only
reasonable mode is public mobilization and exposure.
>From the little I can tell of the response -- and I hope folks in Chicago can
let us know more about the public response -- release of the test has revealed
just how bad a test it is. Like vampires, these lousy tests cannot stand the
light of day.
PS: On our website -- http://www.fairtest.org
-- we have an article on Chicago
from fall 1997 FairTest Examiner.
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