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Judgment of student proficiency can't be made from a single test
by Jonathan Doll


July 12, 2004

Fair testing in Alaska is going the same route as in the Lower 48. There is opposition to the high school exit exam and also inequity in it. Here is what the Lower 48 has learned.

There are more than 70 organizations nationally that oppose the use of high-stakes testing as a single instrument for deciding student success or failure in school (visit These organizations include the NAACP, National Education Association, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), National Associations of Elementary and Secondary Principals and even the American Psychological Association.

Who supports high-stakes testing? Just a small grouping of legislators nationwide and a smaller handful of organizations that may find a monetary benefit from it.

The exit exam is unfair to Alaska Natives based upon the fact that the 24 percent of Alaska schools that are rural don't offer geometry and the exam tests it. Similarly, the exam is unfair to disabled students because it is not based on their individual education plans. One needs to ask for which students is the exam fair.

Educational Equity supports student assessment, but the group believes that no decision of a student's proficiency should be based on a single test alone. Multiple measures including portfolios, cultural heritage projects and so forth would better give a well-rounded evaluation of student strengths and weaknesses.

Jonathan Doll
Anchorage, AK - USA



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