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Monday, 2nd March 2009

Beyond the Bubble: Technology and the Future of Student Assessment

Beyond the Bubble: Technology and the Future of Student Assessment
Source: Education Sector

Students today are growing up in a world overflowing with a variety of high-tech tools, from computers and video games to increasingly sophisticated mobile devices. And unlike adults, these students don't have to adjust to the information age—it will be all they've ever known. Their schools are gradually following suit, integrating a range of technologies both in and outside of the classroom for instructional use. But there's one day a year when laptops power down and students' mobile computing devices fall silent, a day when most schools across the country revert to an era when whiteboards were blackboards, and iPhones were just a twinkle in some techie's eye—testing day.

Since the IBM Type 805 Test Scoring Machine first hit the market in 1938, fill-in-the-bubble test score sheets and scanners have remained the dominant technologies used in local, state, and national assessments. And underlying these pre-World War II technologies are approaches to testing from the same era. They rely heavily on multiple-choice question types and measure only a portion of the skills and knowledge outlined in state educational standards. They do not align well with what we know about how students learn. Nor do they tell us very much about how to help students do better. As a result, at a time when students are tested more than ever—and test results are used to make critical judgments about the performance of schools, teachers, and students—our testing methods don't serve our educational system nearly as well as they should.

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