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Crashing the Servers: Common-Core Assessment Update

We knew there was a lot interest/trepidation out there about the planned common-core assessments, but this headline (from our Education Week colleague Catherine Gewertz) puts things in a whole new light: "Sample Common-Assessment Items Released, Traffic Crashes Server."

So what will the tests be like? Catherine, our resident common-core expert, says that it's too soon to tell for sure (sorry), but that both assessment groups—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium—are aiming to place an emphasis on "synthesis and application" as opposed to rote responses. She also notes that they are—novel idea—trying to make the tests interesting and engaging in and of themselves, so that, as the PARCC materials put it, "the assessment is worthy of preparation, rather than a distraction from good work."

In a separate story published last week, Catherine reports that SBAC is even exploring the possibility of including "performance tasks" on its assessments. In one early example for the language arts exam, students would be asked to research a particular topic and do a five-minute presentation on it, with audiovisual accompaniments. The entire task would be expected to take 105 minutes.

So we're talking about a far cry from multiple-choice bubbles—at least at this very early stage in development. The assessments are not scheduled to be in place until 2014-15. In the meantime, keep up with Education Week's common-core coverage here. You can also follow Catherine on Twitter @cgerwertz.

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