Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment

By Randy Elliot Bennett; William C. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
13 THE FEDERAL ROLE IN STANDARDIZED TESTING

Terry W. Hartle Peter A. Battaglia U. S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources

Standardized testing, which usually means machine-scored multiple-choice tests, is a pervasive part of American education. The National Commission on Testing and Public Policy ( 1990; hereinafter referred to as National Commission on Testing) has estimated that each year elementary and secondary school students take 127 million separate tests. Some students may take as many as 12 tests a year. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (Fair- Test) has calculated that roughly 100 million standardized tests were administered during the 1986-1987 school year ( Medina & Neill, 1990). In fact, these estimates understate the amount of testing that takes place, because neither includes standardized testing done as part of the college admissions process or by institutions of higher education.

This much testing costs a lot of money. According to the National Commission on Testing ( 1990), purchasing and scoring these tests, plus the teacher time required to prepare students and administer the exams, costs between $725 and $915 million annually. It also involves a lot of time. The commission estimates that each year at least 20 million school days are spent taking standardized tests.

Despite the time and cost, the public generally likes the idea of standardized tests. The 1990 Gallup Poll of the Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools asked whether children should be promoted from grade to grade only if they can pass an examination ( Elam, 1990). Sixty-seven percent said yes, a figure that has changed only slightly since the question was first asked in 1978. The 1989 Gallup Poll asked whether or not the respondents favored or opposed

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