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11 March 2005: Pop Quiz (3 of 5)

The assessment discrepancy is something that many teachers experience in many different settings.

As I have experienced it, this phenomenon occurs as a result of three separate forces. First, states set a specific list of standards, dictating what should be taught at each grade level--these are referred to as content standards. Next, a specific text, series or publisher is selected by states or districts for the instruction of the content--this is usually called curriculum. Finally, assessments are administered by private, for-profit companies. And because the curriculum and assessment may or may not be written with the content standards in mind, they often end up assessing teaching and learning of a different set of skills and abilities.

In the "[state] Standardized Test Practice Activity" that I have shown above, we see a perfect example of this assessment discrepancy. Clearly, the skill a student needs to do well on this so-called "activity" is effective recall of minute details.

In contrast, however, the state standards for this grade level don't say anything about recall of election facts from the mid-twentieth century. The words you find in the state content standards include "analyze," "discuss," and "discribe."

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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