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October 28, 2010 4:27 PM New York’s Magic Test

By Daniel Luzer

Remember that whole “college and career” thing? The idea is that the Obama administration wants to replace some provisions of the No Child Left Behind, which requires that public elementary and secondary school students make educational progress every year, with something more absolute: every student will graduate from high school prepared to attend college or start a career.

Getting there is pretty complicated, however. New York State has decided to work on college and career readiness by, um, creating another standardized test. According to an article by Neil de Mause in the Village Voice:

New York State is directing… $700 million… toward the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a 26-state consortium that has set itself the daunting task of completely redefining the way K-12 students are evaluated. On the coalition’s agenda, according to the state education officials and think-tank leaders who are leading the effort, are a shift from paper tests to computer-based ones, and long-form essays and research projects in place of fill-in-the-dots multiple choice. The ultimate goal: to create, by 2014, “an assessment system that will ensure students graduate college- and career-ready from high school.”

Let’s see what $700 million can do. This might be asking a little too much of an assessment system. While certainly New York State could do a better job in this area. It’s currently got an assessment system, the the Regents Examination, that appears to be pretty effective at determining whether or not students are ready for college. As far as career readiness goes, it’s got nothing.

And it probably never will. Is there a standardized test that can accurately determine whether or not someone is ready for “a career”?

And even if New York can create such a test, that’s only the beginning of the process. The hard part will be changing the school system so that all students can do well enough on this magical test.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer