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Assessment Group Uses Students' Feedback to Build Tests

Few students love to take tests. But a $50 gift card goes a long way to getting their help in building one.

That's one of the things I found out when I watched a little-known part of the test-making process called "cognitive labs." Test designers recruit students to try out different kinds of items to see which features work well and which don't.

I got a rare look inside this process by sitting in one of more than 900 cognitive lab sessions being conducted by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two federally funded groups of states that are designing tests for the Common Core State Standards.

This tool has been used in educational test design for many years, but few people outside that rarefied world know about it. The scale of the assessment consortium work, sprawling over most states in the country, gives us an unusual chance to get a glimpse inside the way tests are made. Stay tuned as we bring you reports.

My latest, on the cognitive labs, is posted on EdWeek's website.

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