Vegetarian Butchers Unite!

Believe you me, being the assessment equivalent of a vegetarian butcher means being in perpetual state of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, I’m Team Rubrics! Team Performance-Based Assessments! Team Portfolio! on the other, Let’s talk p-values! Let’s discuss passage selection criteria! Let’s talk large-scale test design!

So here I am yelling, “let’s work to make sure schools are chock full of authentic, meaningful and engaging tasks and assessments!” in one breath and then trying to politely ask, “May I pushback against your criticism of this multiple choice item?” in the next.

I try to straddle that line. I fail a lot but I’m going to keep trying for one main reason – if we can’t agree on the the easy stuff, what’s going to happen with the messy stuff?

With the PARCC test, consider that:

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can read the words of a teacher who was in the room for the work. Or this one.

PARCC had a process to follow because people have been studying multiple choice since their appearance on the scene.  Stepping away from PARCC itself, there’s the challenge that:

At some point, we’ll get around to better assessments like what’s happening in the NYS Performance Consortium, New Hampshire, or on the local-level across the country. At some point, we’ll move past multiple choice and get to what’s next.

The problem with what’s next is that the performance-based assessments pool is shallower. To be sure, there are structures, guidelines, protocols, and research around ensuring reliability, but the pool is not nearly as deep as it is for multiple choice.

In effect, what’s next is going to be messy as all get up. If the field doesn’t trust the subset of field that designed the easier stuff using research-based practices, what’s going to happen in the next evolution?

Although I’m a NY-er and most familiar with our in-state assessments, I’m always happy to discuss assessment design, be PARCC or PBA. Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments!

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