Feb 21, 2007

math WASL going down in flames?

The protesters and op-edians may soon have a reason to cheer:
“We want to change the assessment tool to end-of-course exams. We’re proposing algebra, geometry and biology” testing, Democratic Rep. David Quall of Mount Vernon, said today. “There are many states already involved in end-of-course examinations.”

Rep. Skip Priest, a Federal Way Republican, said the new test would be multiple-choice and standardized, which does away with the story-problem and show-your-work approach in the Washington Assessment of Student Learning for math, which almost half of 10th graders are failing to pass.

The House approach — which has been developed with the help of Republican Rep. Fred Jarrett and Democratic Rep. Pat Sullivan — also delays the math and science tests to 2011 for the math and to 2013 for the science. But it retains the 2008 deadline for reading and writing, which most kids in the Class of 2008 are expected to pass.
A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.


Ryan said...

I'm ambivalent. The standardization issue is important so that we can actually do valid comparisons across schools and across grades, but I've always thought one of the strengths of the test is that it's NOT multiple choice.

Jim Anderson said...

At least in math, multiple choice isn't so bad. Testers can create distracters tied to specific math errors. Answer A, for example, might happen only if a test-taker confuses a positive and negative sign. That allows for quick, cheap, valid assessment. (There are also formulas to account for the guess factor--the SAT, for one, slightly penalizes guessing.)

A big question that goes unanswered: which better predicts later math success? The WASL, NAEP, SAT, or other variable or combination of variables? If a cheaper, faster test does the same job, we ought to make the switch.