Caitlin Emma reports in Politico from the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, where thousands of ed tech entrepreneurs meet and greet:

 

 

DISPATCH FROM SXSWedu: Thousands of students have indicated that they’re interested in getting credit since Arizona State University and edX announced [http://politico.pro/1UbIAgi ] a partnership last year to make freshman year available to students entirely online, allowing students to complete the courses and then decide later whether they want to pay for academic credit. edX CEO Anant Agarwal told our own Caitlin Emma at SXSWedu in Austin that while just 323 learners were actually eligible for credit in the Global Freshman Academy’s first year, he expects that to grow. Having online courses deliver real credit has rocketed edX into an era of “MOOCS 2.0,” he said. Thinking ahead, Agarwal said he’s also focused on a recent announcement [http://bit.ly/1U28unX ] to pilot “MicroMaster’s,” which will allow learners to take a semester of courses online and then spend a single semester on campus. The pilot now offers only the courses in “supply chain management,” but Agarwal said he hopes to expand it to dozens of subject areas in the coming years.

 

 

ARIZONA’S APPETITE FOR A MENU OF TESTS: There’s a good chance that Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will sign a bill that would make the state the first in the nation to offer schools a menu of assessment options. The legislation doesn’t let parents opt children out of tests, but would comes as the opt-out movement warns of another strong showing this spring. The state board would have to approve alternative tests. State lawmakers envision a scenario where schools use the ACT instead of the state standardized test, for example. The Obama administration has supported some states that wanted to move from the state test to the ACT or SAT in high school for accountability. And the Every Student Succeeds Act provides states with the flexibility to pursue this option. But federal officials might take issue with individual schools using different tests for accountability because it could become difficult to measure student learning across the state and hold all schools accountable to a similar standard. More in The Republic: http://bit.ly/1UcaNng.

 

 

As I have said many times on this blog, standardized tests should never be used as a graduation requirement or for accountability. An accountability test should be akin to a test for a driver’s license, not norm-referenced. This is called a criterion-referenced test. Everyone who is able to meet the agreed-upon requirements should be able to do so. A norm-referenced test guarantees that a certain proportion must fail.