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Volume 26, Number 2
March/April 2010

Online Testing, Version 1.0

Oregon’s adaptive computer-based accountability test offers a peek at a brave new future


Middle school students from Central Middle School, San Carlos, CA, working with simulation-based assessments.

At a time when teachers everywhere are complaining that testing takes too much time away from instruction, the state of Oregon has implemented a test that students can take up to three times a year. And that’s just fine with Oregon educators.

That’s because the test is administered on computer. Teachers and students receive almost instantaneous results, and the information can be used diagnostically to target students who need further help to meet state standards and provide them with additional instruction. In that way, the state test, which is intended to provide summative information about what students know, also provides some formative information along the way.

“We know you don’t fatten a pig by weighing it,” says Ted Feller, assistant director of curriculum and student learning for the Centennial School District, a 6,700-pupil district just east of Portland. “But is finding out where a student is taking away a little time [from] instruction? That’s the trade-off we make.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

OAKS Online:

E. S. Quellmalz and J. W. Pellegrino. “Technology and Testing.” Science 323, no. 5910 (2009): 75–79.

E. S. Quellmalz, M. J. Timms, and B. C. Buckley. Using Science Simulations to Support Powerful Formative Assessments of Complex Science Learning. San Francisco: WestEd, 2009.


B. Tucker. Beyond the Bubble: Technology and the Future of Student Assessment. Washington, DC: Education Sector, 2009.