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November 16, 2006


So-called "authentic assessment" is subjectively scored, not reliable and not valid.

Oregon has already gone down this path with the math problem solving tests, writing sample tests, and all the CIM portfolio items.

Although it does have its place in the classroom as a formative assessment, this type of assessment is wholly unsuited to be used for accountability purposes as a summative assessment.

So how then do you assess writing ability? With multiple choice tests? Such tests may yield reliable scores, but are they valid measures of one's ability to write?

I think not.

Writing "ability" is subjective and is not reliably measured by an essay test. The SAT's writing component is summarily ignored by colleges. Can a teacher grade an essay? Sure. That is a formative assessment, not a high stakes accountability assessment.

Can a standardized test have an essay as a component? Huge problems in scoring reliably.

Now, multiple choice tests can and do test many writing-related skills with total reliability and validity. Everything from grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, all can be assessed through multiple choice tests.

Have you ever read E.D. Hirsch's book? He goes into this question in depth.

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