A parent recently wrote an article in the New York Times explaining why he planned to file a Freedom of Information Act suit to demand the release of all test questions.
He is right. Now that the tests have assumed so much importance, the public has a right to know what they were asked.
Now that the tests have such a decisive effect on so many people’s lives, the public has a right to know.
Based on these tests, students will be promoted or will fail.
Based on these tests, students will get into the college of their choice, or will not.
Based on these tests, some teachers will get a bonus, and others will be fired.
Based on these tests, some schools will be closed.
Based on these tests, lives will be changed for better or worse.
Who pays for the tests? The public.
Who is affected by the tests? The public.
Who has a right to know what was asked? The public.
Who has a right to know how many pineapples are on the test? The public.
Who has a right to know how many questions are stupid? The public.
Who has a right to know if there are questions with multiple answers or no answer? The public.
If a person accused of a crime has a right to confront their accuser and hear the evidence, why shouldn’t test-takers have the right to know whether the tests that shaped their fate are reasonable?
Publish them. Let everyone see what is on them. Publishers can write new test questions or they can create a database of released test questions so large that students can dip into them for test preparation.
Or, someday we may regain our wits, and decide to move on to far better forms of assessment, where students actually demonstrate what they know and can do instead of picking a bubble.
Unless, of course, we have become so dumbed down by decades of bubble testing that we can no longer think differently.