You are a congresswoman’s aide. Using the articles, videos and charts provided, write an essay advising her whether to support or oppose a nuclear power plant in her district.
New Common Core tests include “performance tasks” like this example from the Smarter Balanced Consortium, writes Emmanuel Felton on the Hechinger Report. Is it worth the time, cost and unreliability it adds to testing?
. . . in addition to the multiple-choice-heavy parts of the tests, which can take up to almost five hours (depending on the test and grade level), the performance tasks add up to 4 ½ hours to the Smarter Balanced tests and 6 ½ hours to the PARCC tests.
Smarter Balanced performance tasks include 30-minute classroom activities — one for the math section and one for the English section — in which students, for example, learn about and discuss nuclear power before they start the writing assignment.
The 30-minute activities are supposed to eliminate the benefits of prior knowledge of the subject. But some students will get better teaching or a fuller discussion of the subject, concedes Andrew Latham, director of Assessment & Standards Development Services at WestEd, a nonprofit that worked with Smarter Balanced and PARCC on the new tests.
“It’s asking students to think evaluatively and analytically about the texts they are given,” said Justin McGehee, who teaches English at Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton, California. “But with all of that writing, the scoring is very wide open.”
Performance tasks “are tremendously difficult to score, you get better statistics without open-ended questions so there are always trade-offs,” Latham says.