Found an interesting article via my NCTE inbox. It seems that the California State University system is finalizing a test, developed in conjunction with ETS, that they feel will gauge a student's technological literacy. Even more - they are looking to have the test become a gatekeeper for higher level courses, similar to what many colleges and universities do with writing proficiency.
I like this idea! First - it addresses the problem that Kim Moritz and many, many others have raised about Internet blocking in school. If higher ed is going to require these critical thinking skills in technology, we better teach it, right?
Second - it begins to define what technology and information literacy is. I am a firm believer that there are many types of literacy out there, not just what we expect or assume English Language Arts folks are teaching. I believe that every content area has a specialized literacy: it takes a special skill to read a political cartoon in Social Studies class, which is very different from the skill that is required in reading a technical drawing or even a sewing pattern. Each and every teacher has an obligation to teach their students the finer points of literacy in their content area.
Third - from what I've seen of the demo online, it's a performance assessment!! There are two levels to the assessment (core and advanced) which take the test taker through tasks that ask them to manage, access, integrate, and create pieces usually within an email context. Aren't performance tasks, and authentic performance tasks, what we would like to see kids be assessed with? Imagine - no multiple choice!!
Even more interesting are the score reports. With all due respect to nyStart, these are readable and meaningful. They state what the test taker was asked to do - and then spells out how they did. Using language that simple!!
Hmmmmm............I wonder how we could make our ELA Assessments look like this?