Hi ya’ll! Hope everyone had a refreshing Memorial Day holiday last week! Now that schools are letting out and the morning commute is less cluttered with buses, let’s talk about some of the testing-related events from the last two weeks…
The big national news – CNN reports that more colleges are moving towards making the SAT and ACT optional for admission. I say, good for them. It’ll be interesting to see whether schools such as Wake Forest that want to increase their “socioeconomic, racial and ethnic diversity” will get students of high caliber and whether those students will do well in college. One caveat – every school that is now announcing the SATs are optional should be required to report GPA and graduation rates — broken down by racial and socioeconomic variables, of course — four and six years from now. After all, that’s the only hope we’ll have for seeing if colleges are doing this because they truly believe that there are talented students out there who have been blocked solely by the SAT — or if they just want to make their freshmen classes more diverse, regardless of the graduation rates of those who couldn’t handle the test. Be interesting to see if we could gather some measure of whether grade inflation increased after this experiment in college admissions, too.
SC’s dismissal of the PACT is almost a “done deal.” Be interesting to see what the new, more “diagnostic” exams look like.
The state of Georgia got ugly news this week – disappointing results on the new, tougher math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Forty percent of the state’s eighth-graders failed the exam, and while some wring their hands in despair, others applaud the new, more challenging approach. Check out pages 45-50 here to see if you’re smarter than an eighth-grader. I say the material does look pretty challenging.
Meanwhile, over in Texas, 95% of their eighth-graders passed the state reading exam. The full set of Spring 2007 results are here. Even the migrant and ESL numbers don’t look that bad. For some context, here is the Grade 8 Information Booklet. An older scoring rubric is here, but that doesn’t provide information on where the standard is set.
In the, “the heck?” file goes this story. It’s hard to believe that a printer hired to produce high-stakes exams would make this big of a boo-boo. It’s even harder to believe that only 5% of the exam scores were affected (hat tip: Ben C.).
ETS is getting fancy with the GRE, adding a component called “Personal Potential Index” that is intended to measure ability in six new areas: ” knowledge and creativity, communication skills, teamwork, planning and organization, ethics and integrity, and resilience.” The author notes that, rather than soothing the testing critics, this effort might scare them even further. What won’t ETS try to measure in the future? Me, I’m tickled to hear this, as long as ETS is going to publish the results and provide some data on the reliability and various validities of these scores. I think this sounds like great fun. Then again, I’m not the one who has to pay an extra $15 for this index. (Note: Perhaps this report should be taken with a grain of salt, as no information about this is yet up on the ETS/GRE webpage.)
Finally, I was wondering when standardized tests would enter the 2008 presidential race. I wonder no more.