Tag Archives: Education

Australian CAT for Kids

The Australian State of Victoria’s standard educational assessments include computer-adaptive tests (CATs), reports their new, free manual on report interpretation.  I was pleased to discover that the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority uses the most modern form of human assessment to help children of all ages learn.

In particular, it is noteworthy that their easy-to-read manual includes an understanding of Rasch Measurement.  It notes the specific locations where there are items that are out of scope for a given assessment.  In these places, the child is mismatched with the test – the questions are either too hard or too easy to produce a trustworthy metric.

I’m hopeful that Australia’s educational leadership rubs off on more schools around the world.

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Utah Leadership Supports Computer-Adaptive Testing In Spite of “No Bureaucrat Left Behind” Act

Nine schools in Utah have found the benefits of Computer-Adaptive Testing to trump older methods.  Adaptive tests change to match a student’s skill level, avoiding wasted time and effort on questions that are far below or above their proficiency level.  They’re also at least 20% shorter.  This allows for periodic reassessment, and personalized focus on the specific curricular areas a learner needs to work on.  Each student is treated as a special, unique person.

But the US Federal Government’s Department of Education is behind the times, and making it difficult for Utah to use the modern psychometric methods, according to Utah’s Daily Herald.  The “No Child Left Behind Act” requires outdated, non-adaptive methods to be used in addition to the modern approaches.  While on the surface, the DoE’s request for peer review is something that is good, in applied settings, it’s rarely used.  The instruments I’ve developed would certainly pass the scrutiny of my peers, and the feedback they give is useful.  But these extra steps are typically unnecessary to ensure that instrumentation is useful, as long as professionals develop the Computer-Adaptive Tests.  It’s downright destructive to children for the federal government to force Utah to use outdated, longer, and less precise measures of learning.  While I presume those favored by Washington are “peer reviewed”, I suspect that the review committee is selected by those who are friends of politicians, and are likely unskilled in the recent developments in computer-adaptive measurement.

Fortunately, Utah appears to have visionary, contemporary leadership about steadfastly supporting good measurement to help children learn.  The Utah Legislature, the State School Board and Governor all approved the plan to continue to use it – and the Feds require the outdated assessments to be used as well.  This is both a hassle, unnecessary cost, and an opportunity cost – the children could have been spending the time they’ll take on the DoE tests on learning something new.  Are you a visionary leader like the folks in Utah?  More by The Scientific Leader on Computer-Adaptive Measurement, applied to organizations and business is free here.

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Should Harvard Follow Peter Schiff?

Harvard expects it could loose as much as 30% of its’ almost $37 billion dollar endowment fund that finances over a third of its’ expenses annually, according to the New York Times. Harvard President Drew Faust’s note to his Deans indicates that their diversified portfolio has lost about $8 billion, or 22% of their value.  While Harvard appears to be diversified, with investments in everything from private equity to timber and real estate, it appears to have been hit by the current crisis like most other organizations and private citizens.  The Times reports that Harvard only had about 12% of their portfolio in foreign equities, and another 10% in emerging markets.  It didn’t mention whether or not Harvard held non-US currencies or hard assets such as gold.

Here’s a 10-year view of Gold’s value in dollars.  While it’s taken hits recently, overall it has dramatically outperformed the dollar.

Peter Schiff is the President of Euro Pacific Capital, and has called the US recession many years ago.  His clients are well diversified out of US currencies and equities, in favor of developed economies because his motto is “There’s a bull market somewhere”.  Uniquely, he sells gold held at the Perth Mint in Australia, and gold has done relatively well as an investment against the dollar.  Anyone else think Harvard could do better by following Peter’s guidance, and perhaps moving a massive amount of their assets outside the US?  As I noted previously, I’m moving my assets to Peter’s firm.  Should Harvard follow my lead?

India’s Harvard to Use Computer Adaptive Testing

The premier management schools in India, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are migrating their common admission test to a computer adaptive test, using the same technologies deployed in the US to certify physicians, and offered by The Scientific Leader.  The Business Standard reports that IIM is seeking better information on the performance students, hence their desire to migrate to the most sophisticated form of human assessment available in the field of psychometrics.  IIM will use their CAT system to assess over 250,000 students for only 1,800 seats at IIM and other business schools.  With those large numbers taking the test, IIM will also benefit from adaptive testing’s improved question security – as every person gets a personalized test, and it’s rare that two people get the same questions with adaptive measurement.  CATs are unrelated to any sort of measurement of felines.

Are you tired of tedious tests?  Worried about the security of your high-stakes tests?  I encourage you to check out The Scientific Leader’s free whitepaper on the applications of Computer Adaptive Testing to leadership assessment.

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