Students will notice a key difference on the new test: In addition to multiple-choice questions, it includes many "constructed response" questions, requiring them to explain in three or four sentences how they arrived at their answers. The Stanford 9 test was entirely multiple choice.
The Stanford 9 analyzed the performance of D.C. students based on the achievement of their peers across the country. The new exam will bring the system into compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires systems to replace such "norm-referenced" tests with exams that measure students against what they are taught in their classrooms.
The federal requirement went into effect last year, and the D.C. system had to pay a $123,000 fine for missing the deadline. D.C. school officials said they needed the extra year to align the new exam with reading and math standards, curricula and textbooks introduced in the fall.
D.C. CAS's short-answer questions will allow schools to gauge higher-thinking skills, said Bill Caritj, assistant superintendent for educational accountability and assessment. "You can ask the students to analyze and compare," Caritj said. "We want them to describe what clues suggest what an author's purpose is. We want to try to get them to think for themselves."
Monday, April 17, 2006
Here comes CAS
The Post has an article about DCPS's new standardized exams that are replacing the previously used Stanford 9 tests: the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System.