>Each curricula would have a final exam (oops, assessment) >associated with it. This exam would be given in place of a final, under >AP-type conditions. >>more deletia<< >These state competency assessments would take place every three of four >years, culminating in a "leaving exam" at the end of the 12th grade. >
The Nov 1992 issue of the _Mathematics Teacher_ contains a Soundoff titled "How National Examinations Can Benefit Students and Teachers." Author Peter Glidden feels as you do about standards, accountability, and student motivation.
>Of course, the question is what would these exams look like? For math, I >would suggest this format. The test would be standardized, multiple choice or >short answer on the Japanese model (which are very clever). Scoring open >ended questions on a state-wide scale is just too expensive. > I'm not sure "too expensive" should be taken as a given. In South Carolina, every student is assessed on writing. In an unusual moment of lucidity, the state assessment system decided to use a prompted writing sample to gain evidence of students' ability to write (instead of the usual multiple-choice format). For the past ten years the writing samples have been scored by a private firm in North Carolina. Costly, yes, too expensive, no. It all depends on what you think is important.
My main concern with a terminal exam system is the potential for having too many classroom decisions guided by a test that is administered in one sitting. Nonetheless, the AP program has successfully managed this problem. I believe the open-ended questions on the AP exam are a critical element to the success.