Why Are Standardized Tests So Boring?: A Sensitive Subject

It is a guiding principle in test development that stimulus materials and test questions should not upset test-takers. Much like dinner conversation with in-laws, tests should refrain from referencing religion, or sex, or race, or politics --  anything that might provoke a heightened emotional response that could interfere with test-takers’ ability to give their best effort. Attention to “sensitivity” concerns, as they’re known, makes sense conceptually. But in practice, as they shape act...
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Is the ACT a Valid Test?

ACT, Inc. released the results of its 2016 National Curriculum Survey earlier this year. The Survey goes out every three or four years to elementary, middle school, high school, and college teachers, as well as to workforce professionals. It collects information about what respondents are teaching, how they teach it, what they care about, and so forth. It serves as the basis upon which ACT builds its tests. Because the Survey provides a look into both what pre-college students are being t...
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Welcome to the Sausage Factory

I used to work for ACT, Inc., designing and developing student assessments. In my final years there, I was Director of the Writing and Communications Literacies group. I and two of my most-valued colleagues were the team responsible for the revamped ACT Writing Test. So, if you have any questions about it, let me know. The longer I worked at ACT, the more disillusioned I became with the organization -- and with conventional standardized testing as a force in education. The tests my group ...
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