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New report: From multiple choice tests to deeper assessment

Recently the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) released a study titled "Developing Assessments of Deeper Learning: The Costs and Benefits of Using Tests that help students learn." The study reviews the implication of the cost of assessment with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards that have been adopted in more than 40 states.

One of the main changes with the implementation of the new standards will be a shift in the level of skills expected from students. Higher order thinking skills will require that students are able to design and conduct research, analyze data, draw conclusions and report findings. But in order for that to happen both teaching and assessment paradigms need to change and adjust to the new expectations.

The current paradigm of multiple-choice testing measures mostly low-level knowledge will change in favor of more open-ended problems in which students will need to demonstrate their ability to synthesize, think critically and solve real-world problems.

This change in standards will also have an impact on the cost of assessments. High-quality assessments tend to cost more than the typical multiple-choice test because they require human scoring and demand more time.

Currently, many states budget about $25-7 per pupil for tests in math and reading. However, the real cost, both at the state and local level, can get up to $50 when taking into account interim and benchmark testing. Locally, Duval County Schools spends over $6 million for the current testing system.

However, on average, SCOPE researchers estimate the current cost of testing is still less than 1 percent of overall per-pupil spending nationwide, and the investment is well worth it to push our models of teaching assessment beyond what knowledge is the cheapest to measure and towards what is most important to understand.

To offset these costs, SCOPE researchers call for a wise use of existing resources to develop a system that not only assesses deeper learning, but also provides supports for instruction by giving tools to teacher to see how their students are performing, how they think and what they really know.

To learn more about the full report visit the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

 

- Maira Martelo