Multiple-Choice Tests

A multiple-choice test usually has dozens of questions or "items." For each question, the test- taker is supposed to select the "best" choice among a set of four or five options. (They are sometime called "selected-response tests.") For example:

What causes night and day?

A. The earth spins on its axis.
B. The earth moves around the sun.
C. Clouds block out the sun's light.
D. The earth moves into and out of the sun's shadow.
E. The sun goes around the earth.

Criterion- and Standards- Referenced Tests

Criterion-referenced tests (CRTs) are intended to measure how well a person has learned a specific body of knowledge and skills. Multiple-choice tests most people take to get a driver's license and on-the-road driving tests are both examples of criterion-referenced tests. As on most other CRTs, it is possible for everyone to earn a passing score if they know about driving rules and if they drive reasonably well.

Norm-Referenced Achievement Tests

Human beings make tests. They decide what topics to include on the test, what kinds of questions to ask, and what the correct answers are, as well as how to use test scores. Tests can be made to compare students to each other (norm-referenced tests) or to see whether students have mastered a body of knowledge (criterion or standards-referenced tests). This fact sheet explains what NRTs are, their limitations and flaws, and how they affect schools.


The Limits of Standardized Tests for Diagnosing and Assisting Student Learning


Standardized tests have historically been used as measures of how students compare with each other (norm-referenced) or how much of a particular curriculum they have learned (criterion-referenced). Increasingly, standardized tests are being used to make major decisions about students, such as grade promotion or high school graduation, and schools. More and more often, they also are intended to shape curriculum and instruction.

Organizations and Experts Opposed to High Stakes Testing

Test Company Statements against High Stakes:

Harcourt Brace on the Stanford 9: about Using their Test to Make Grade Promotion Decisions

"Promotion and Retention of Students"

Testing and Grade Retention

Civil Rights, Disability Orgs. Call for "Multiple Measures" in "No Child" Overhaul Legislation

for further information:
Dr. Hilda Crespo (ASPIRA) - 202-835-3600, Ext. 114
Dr. LaRuth Gray (NABSE) - 212-998-5137 or 212-998-5105
Dr. Deborah Ziegler (CEC) - 703-264-9406
Dr. Monty Neill (FairTest) - (857) 350-8207

Test Reformers React to New National Poll on "No Child Left Behind" (PDF)

Aspen Commission Proposals are "NCLB on Steroids;" Side-Effect Will Be More "Teaching to the Tests"

for more information:
Dr. Monty Neill (857) 350-8207
Robert Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

The Aspen Commission's recommendations for reauthorizing the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, released today, amount to little more than NCLB on steroids.

Their predictable side-effect will be the further reduction of education to coaching for narrow exams that fail to support or assess high-quality student learning.

Education, Civil Rights, Disability, Religious Groups Promote "Redefining Accountability" To Replace "No Child Left Behind"

for further information:
Sara Robertson (202) 230-8978 Robert Schaeffer (239) 395-6773 Dr. Monty Neill (617) 335-2115



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