preparing for state tests

TITLE: NBS#872: "Review Tests Go Too Far, Critics Say"
CATEGORY: Assessment & Accountability

As schools across the country increase their emphasis on standardized testing,
teachers are beginning to wrestle with how best to prepare students for those
tests without crossing the line into cheating. Giving students practice sheets
with problems in exactly the same formats they will find on the test may boost
scores, but it won't necessarily increase general knowledge of content, says Dan
Koretz, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corp.

A review sheet for an algebra exam in Montgomery County, Maryland raised
eyebrows recently when it was shown that some review questions were very similar
to actual test questions. "Educators cheat to deceive parents and the business
community about student achievement," declared education activist John Hoven.

But school officials have defended the review sheets. "Students shouldn't be so
familiar with the content that they see the test [beforehand], but the scope and
significance of the material has to be part of the instructional program," said
district spokesman Brian Porter.

Teachers should make an effort to present information in different ways,
however, in order to ensure that students become adept at more than just taking
tests, said Lorrie Shepard, an educational measurement researcher at the
University of Colorado at Boulder.

SOURCE: Washington Post, 10 July 2001 (p. A09)
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