The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Standardized tests

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  • A question arises pertaining to differences between two different standardized tests in measuring reading achievement.
    For example, "Why do 64% of Kansas fourth graders score below the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test, whereas 16.6% of fourth graders fall below the standard on Kansas standards." These differences between the two tests is indeed great.
    In a test for fourth grade reading, there are a plethora of test items which might appear therein that might well differ from another fourth grade reading test. Also the emphasis placed on one may have more test items therein as compared to another. Thus, one test might have a considerable number of test items on phonics whereas the other might believe that most or all of the important learnings on phonics should have been mastered previously and be deemphasized on the test. The following are a few different kinds of test items to put into a reading test and some will have much more emphasis in that category such as phonics as compared to the other:
    * reading to obtain factual information as compared to reading for a main idea
    * reading content literally versus reading critically
    * reading subject matter as the author states it in comparison to creative reading which produces new, novel ideas
    * reading to recall segments of information versus summarizing a selection read.
    Tests measure differently due to its writers perception of what is salient to measure. When I took the orals and finals on my doctoral dissertation, I was advised to say/write the results "According to the Iowa Test of Basic Skills….," because a different test such as the Stanford Achievement Test might produce quite different results of pupil progress in the research study. High quality tests are complex and expensive to write. The tests have to be valid, and in this case measure reading achievement, subject matter knowledge, as well as skills in using the information. I have read an estimate of the cost of writing test items for the new Common Core State Standards being $3.6 million dollars. Specialists, time, and energy go into their production.
    — Marlow Ediger, North Newton
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