Using Web-Based Testing for Large-Scale Assessment
RAND EDUCATION SANTA MONICA CA
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Efforts to improve the quality of education in the United States increasingly emphasize the need for high-stakes achievement testing. The availability of valid, reliable, and cost-effective measures of achievement is critical to the success of many reform efforts. This paper begins with a brief discussion of the context surrounding large-scale e.g., statewide achievement testing. We then describe a new approach to assessment that we believe holds promise for reshaping the way achievement is measured. This approach uses tests that are delivered to students over the Internet and are tailored adapted to each students own level of proficiency. We anticipate that this paper will be of interest to policy makers, educators, and test developers who are charged with improving the measurement of student achievement. We are not advocating the wholesale replacement of all current paper-and-pencil measures with web-based testing. However, we believe that current trends toward greater use of high-stakes tests and the increasing presence of technology in the classroom will lead assessment in this direction. Indeed, systems similar to those we describe in this report are already operational in several U.S. school districts and in other countries. Furthermore, we believe that although web-based testing holds promise for improving the way achievement is measured, a number of factors may limit its usefulness or potentially lead to undesirable outcomes. It is therefore imperative that the benefits and limitations of this form of testing be explored and the potential consequences be understood. The purpose of this paper is to stimulate discussion and research that will address the many issues raised by a shift toward web-based testing.
- Humanities and History
- Computer Systems