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

literacy are needed, the precise skills required in the workforce of the future are unclear. Therefore, today's workers must first be able to learn. They must also have the confidence to accept responsibility for problem solving--on the assembly line as well as in the front office. They must be able to analyze and communicate potential solutions. These skills are not adequately assessed by multiple-choice items alone.


CONCLUSION

School deregulation and restructuring of curriculum and pedagogy are underway. The objective is to create schools that work for all students, but there is no one right answer. The challenge for the measurement professional is to create new systems of accountability that are substantively meaningful, extensive, and understandable. The research to develop extended-response, performance assessment is underway and the prospects are hopeful. Now is the time to begin carefully planned conversations with policymakers so that unworthy political ends do not interfere. For example, policymakers must learn that when an elementary school begins to implement child-centered, active science instruction, it is not appropriate to demand that the science scores on multiple-choice tests improve next year. In such a case, the school should be required to communicate information about student projects, appreciation of science, attendance (students and staff), and use of up-to-date scientific resources and information.

Accountability systems must begin to address factors in addition to narrow conceptions of student achievement. New assessment technologies permit the assessment of knowledge and skills well beyond those appropriately measured by limited-response assessment. We must exploit the power of that potential. The assessment community must provide ever more assertive leadership towards ending reform by comparison and creating the reality of reform by student empowerment. This is the case in which all students are validated by what they know, and that validation provides the foundation for future learning. As previously suggested, this is the case in which there are no losers.

But more to the interest of all, can we tolerate a system that fails no one? Can our economy and our personal efficacy survive without the competitive traditions embedded in reform by comparison and so conveniently operationalized through multiple-choice tests? These questions constitute the political test for educators and for the country. We cannot afford to fail.


REFERENCES

Barton P. E., & Kirsch I. S. ( 1990). Workplace competencies: The need to improve literacy and employment readiness. Washington, DC: United States Department of Education.

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