Saturday, November 8, 2008

the post-Bergeson future of the WASL

Dick Lilly, on the future of the WASL:
The door is now open to change the type of test from one that is based on a particular educational philosophy (the ultimate problem with the WASL and most tests of its ilk) to one that is content-based. At root, what’s wrong with the WASL is that it is designed in response to the dominant educational philosophy of the past 40 or so years — the “student-centered,” “discovery” learning that de-emphasizes content knowledge in favor of critical thinking. That's a short-hand description and a lot can be said about this approach, but what it amounts to is the contention that you can make profound decisions while looking at a spreadsheet in which every cell is blank.

To get away from this style of testing, Dorn should switch immediately at the high school level to the SAT subject tests (formerly the SAT IIs). These are good if not excellent content tests, as are the advanced placement (AP) tests. Such tests would provide a stunningly clear picture of what our high school graduates know.

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