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Given how much the rest of education has changed since the middle of the 20th century, it’s remarkable that the model of large-scale student assessment we have today still looks pretty much the way it did back in the nineteen-fifties: a group of kids under careful watch, lined up in rows of seats in a rigidly controlled space, all asked the same questions, each silently bubbling in answer sheets under the same strict time limits.
To be sure, new technologies have been incorporated into standardized testing over the decades: machine scoring, computerized authoring and delivery, computer adaptive testing, technology-enhanced items, automated essay scoring, automated item generation. But these innovations — not all of them widespread; it’s still very much a paper-and-pencil world in most US schools — haven’t really changed the underlying testing paradigm. Whether computer- or paper-based, the tests still are comprised mostly of multiple-choice questions. They still require highly contrived and regimented conditions for administration. They still make use of the same measurement principles and techniques. They still are governed by the values of 20th-century industrialization: speed, uniformity, cost efficiency, quantifiability, and mass production.
Here are some directions in which the future of testing may be headed:
- Classroom-Based Evidence
- Real-World Fidelity
- Continuous Assessment
Read more about the future of testing by William Bryant at Getting Smart