Correct Answers Are So Passé

July 8, 2013

(Guest Post by James Shuls)

In a recent interview, Douglas McCollum, senior vice president and general manager of education publishing company Pearson was asked, “What’s wrong with the way that we do K-12 assessment now?” His response:

We are going from the world of No Child Left Behind, where all of the assessments were objective, multiple-choice items, very cut-and- dry. They really don’t demand as much from students. [They’re] not really demanding that you be able to write, demonstrate your thinking skills, and so forth.

You know, I’ve often said to myself, “The problem with these tests is that their all too objective. What we need is a little subjectivity.” It seems I’m not alone. When asked what testing will look like in five years, McCollum responded:

It’s really all about being able to demonstrate your process of thinking. It’s about types of assessments that don’t necessarily have right or wrong answers, but that ask that students be able to defend a position. We’re moving more towards performance tasks, higher-order thinking, synthesis, comparisons.

I too have often thought that getting the right answer was so passé. After all, everyone knows that having the correct thinking is where it’s at. Although, what happens if I have the right answer with the wrong thinking?



James Shuls is the education policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute