Among the provisions included in the newly passed, GOP-only House of Representatives reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act is language that would allow states to fulfill federal testing requirements by using computer-based adaptive tests.
Last week, Education Week highlighted the growing support for the tests, which adjust the difficulty of their questions based on whether the test-taker gets prior answers correct. We also highlighted a lingering controversy over the nuance of how adaptive tests should be implemented—specifically, whether the exams should be allowed to ask questions above or below a student's grade level, an approach that some disability rights advocates and testing experts vehemently oppose.
Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisconsin, a long-time supporter of adaptive tests, issued a release touting the exams' inclusion in the House rewrite.
"By including these provisions in the reauthorization of federal education policy, states will be able to better evaluate how their students are performing," said Petri in the release. "Adaptive testing is proven to be a more effective tool for assessing student performance and competence than standard paper-based testing that only shows whether a student is on grade level."
Rep. Petri's office said H.R. 5 specifically gives states the option to use tests that ask off-grade level questions to determine students' actual grade-level performance. All states will still be required to measure if students are performing at grade level or not. That language can be seen in an earlier version of the bill passed by the House's education committee.
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