In the last two days there have been two major stories of problems with high stakes testing.
The national story is regarding the SATs where as many as 4000 tests may have been graded incorrectly by as much as 100 points. The testing administrators are blaming moisture from humidity, that caused the paper to swell which in turn caused the computers to misread the sheets.
In the other story, in Illinois the ISAT tests that are given throughout the State at various grades for purposes of NCLB and for planning purposes have been delayed. Harcourt Corporation, who is responsible for the testing on contract with the State, had promised three weeks ago that the "tests are in the mail". Apparently that was not entirely true and now testing will be postponed at least one day to March 14, 2004. Will they do better in scoring the tests remains to be seen.
I have posted previously about widespread errors in testing and recent discoveries that testing of nonverbal abilities for children with autism can yield scores signficantly higher than on typical evaluations based on verbal abilities. Parents and schools need to view scores with a healthy dose of skepticism. Parents need to request the test protocols, raw data and answer sheets to verify that the testing was done correctly and scored correctly. These recent stories in addition to the previous stories reinforce the reality that errors can be introduced into high stakes testing on mutiple levels.