One Standardized Test to Rule Them All

Can a multi-state effort to concoct new standardized tests prepare New York's students for college?

Students and teachers alike will be able to judge for themselves soon enough. PARCC says it should have pilot programs ready to roll out for initial trials next school year, with a full-scale field test slated for 2012–13.

Chester insists it can be done, pointing to European nations that use more varied assessments as a model. "We're going to aim at a level that makes us competitive with other nations," he says. "On some level, I do believe this is an American competitiveness agenda."

Neill, however, sees a very different lesson from the same nations. "Finland, they essentially don't test—there is testing for college admissions, but it's actually optional," he says. "So why the hell are we?"

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