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  Mastery Test's Format At Issue
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Last EditedMadViking  Feb 26, 2006 01:07pm
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News DateSunday, February 26, 2006 07:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIt's known as the gold standard of annual school achievement tests, in part because of questions like this:

Michael bought some vegetable plants from Greta's Garden Center. (Garden center prices, per plant, are: Tomato $2.00; Bean $1.25; Squash $1.50; Corn $1.75). Michael spent a total of exactly $25 for his vegetable plants. First, Michael bought 3 of each kind of plant. Then, he bought some more plants with the rest of his money. Find 2 different ways he could have spent the rest of his money. Show your work or explain how you determined your answer.

Thousands of students will face challenges such as this fifth-grade question when they begin taking the Connecticut Mastery Test this week - while in many states, common multiple-choice tests will suffice.

Compared with multiple-choice questions, these open-ended questions, requiring written answers, measure more complex skills and are more likely to show whether students have a firm grasp of reading, mathematics and other subjects, educators say.
Robert Palaich, an official with a Denver-based consulting firm that has done cost studies on No Child Left Behind for Connecticut and other states, said Connecticut is well-known for its testing program.

"In many quarters," he said, "they are viewed as having the gold standard."

Aside from cost, however, is the fundamental question of what kinds of tests are educationally sound.

Connecticut officials insist they will not shift to what some have called a "dumbed-down" test.
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