Base tests on curricula, not standards

It’s hard to write good test questions based on a set of standards, writes Dan Willingham on Britannica Blog. The standards tend to be so broad that nobody knows what’s really expected or too narrow, encouraging teachers to teach only what’s on the list of expectations.

I don’t see how these problems can be avoided unless you make the expectations more comprehensive. That is, instead of writing a list of standards, specify the expectations for contents and skills in more detail — in short, base tests on a curriculum. A curriculum would differ from a list of standards because it would include both the broad conceptual ideas and the specific content, and it would describe how the abstract concepts relate to the specific content.

A number of states are moving toward a statewide core curriculum, encouraged by Achieve.

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