Re: Cheating on Standardized Tests/Test Misues & User Qualifications
- Subject: Re: Cheating on Standardized Tests/Test Misues & User Qualifications
- From: "Deanna M. De'Liberto" <Ddeliberto@AOL.COM>
- Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 19:05:38 EDT
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
I think I may have missed the earlier posts on this subject but Dr. Powell's
first sentence has prompted me to write this message. Standardized, multiple-
choice tests (and I would say even say constructed response tests) should NOT
be used to evaluate school performance--UNLESS that was the intended purpose
of the test to begin with. Having developed a number of tests, most tests
begin with the purpose of determining what a student knows and is able to do
with respect to specific objectives. Then when scores are reported, the
results are used for other purposes as you have correctly identified. If test
results are not properly interpreted or are used for purposes which the test
was not intended to measure, then it seems to me that the problem is not with
the test but in how test results are used. I agree with Dr. Powell that
multiple-choice tests should NOT be the sole measure used to evaluate students
but disagree that the misuses of test results only occurs on standardized
Before I assumed responsibilities as a test developer, I was employed as a
math teacher in the NYC schools. In NYS, Regents exams are administered for
various courses. These are state developed exams and, as you may be aware,
many changes are in the works in NYS. We were encouraged and expected to get
all students to pass the exam. Part I was multiple-choice and Part II was
constructed response. Students were permitted to choose the questions they
wanted to answer on Part II. During my first year at a particular school, I
was instructed by my supervisor to cause a student to fail the exam because he
had done the probability question but not the graphing question. I was
outraged at how anyone could want a student to fail simply because he chose to
answer a question he was advised not to answer and how is it that anyone can
be permitted to decide what questions a student should or should not answer.
But again, this was on the free response section.
I have seen many such cases of test manipulation -- both in the student's
favor and against. My decision to get more involved in the development of
tests was mainly due to my belief that many tests are not used properly--and
of course a number of tests are not developed properly. As a test developer,
it is my responsibility to ensure that the tests I develop meet standards for
reliability and validity. I strongly uphold the standards described on the
APA Guidelines for Educational and Psychological Testing and in the Code of
Fair Testing Practices. Test developers have many responsibilities but so do
the test users.
Test users must establish that they have the qualifications necessary to
administer and interpret tests properly. But this requirement is rarely
enforced at the school level--in fact if the same individuals purchasing tests
for schools were to order the tests as an individual, many would not be
approved by the test publisher as having met the necessary qualifications.
But because they are employed at a school, have their supervisor sign off on
the purchase, they can order the tests. This simply is not the case for other
types of tests that are not for school use. Teachers used to be expected to
take courses in tests and measurement. This is no longer the case but about
80 percent of a teacher's responsibility is related to assessment and
evaluation -- both formal and informal.
I do realize that this response is long winded but I really feel that much of
the problem lies in how tests are used and not in how they are developed.
These misuses will and do carry over into all types of testing including
performance assessment. Please do not interpret this as my sanctioning
standardized multiple-choice tests. I agree there are several problems in
their construction but the outcomes you describe are not limited to these
types of tests.
Can we do something to ensure teachers and educators have the proper training
to administer, interpret and develop tests? Can we stiffen the requirements
for purchase and prevent publishers from selling tests to schools that
manipulate test results as was done in Ohio? I am open to suggestions here as
I am deeply concerned about this issue.
Deanna M. De'Liberto, President/Director of Assessment
D Squared Assessments, Inc.
(Specialists in Test Development/Validation and Test Administration)
9 Bedle Road, Suite 250
Hazlet, NJ 07730-1209
Phone: (732) 888-9339
Member of the Association of Test Publishers
In a message dated 9/27/98 3:31:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time, powell@NS.NET
> Thanks for your reply and sorry for my delay in responding.
> I believe standardized, multiple choice tests, as the sole measure, are an
> extremely poor way to evaluate schools. I also believe too much is riding
> student test scores, including property values, personnel hiring and
> "outstanding schools" designations, etc. There have been many incidents of
> cheating reported in the news and I believe there are many more I don't
> about. I am preparing an article on the ssubject and would like to know of
> many incidents of student and/or school personnel manipulating test results
> James Powell, Ph.D.
> Mary Ella Brady wrote:
> > There are two recent (in April and May) cases of teacher alleged
> > cheating here in Charleston County. What info are you looking for?
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