Instead of boosting security for test questions to prevent cheating, why not have open tests? asks Eric Hanushek on Education Next.
He proposes developing a very large bank of test questions that cover the entire curriculum from basic to advanced topics. All questions would be made public. Teachers could teach to the test, knowing they’re covering the entire curriculum. Critics could challenge test questions they think are misleading, irrelevant or otherwise inappropriate.
Then, move to computerized adaptive testing, where answers to an initial set of questions move the student to easier or more difficult items based on responses. This testing permits accurate assessments at varying levels while lessening test burden from excessive questions that provide little information on individual student performance. Such assessments would not be limited to minimally proficient levels that are the focus of today’s tests, and thus they could provide useful information to districts that find current testing too easy. Students would be given a random selection of questions, and the answers would go directly into the computer – bypassing the erasure checks, the comparison of responses with other students, and the like.
This is how the FAA tests applicants for a private pilot license, he writes. There are so many possible questions that it’s easier to learn the underlying concepts than to memorize all possible answers.
Students spend less time taking adaptive tests, because they’re not asked lots of too-easy or too-hard questions. Teachers get the results immediately.
Does Hanushek’s idea make sense?