Test Invalidated over Directions Goof

Scores on the Program for International Student Assessment tests taken by thousands of American 15-year-olds last fall were voided because of errors on the test itself.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Sorry, our bad. Scores on the Program for the International Student Assessment tests that were taken by 5,600 American 15-year-olds last fall have had to be officially invalidated. The test directions were not proofreaded - kind of the thing you think could never happen here, huh, either by the contractor, RTI International, or the Department of Education.

The test is designed to measure the progress of U.S. students against those in 56 other countries where, apparently, the test has been administered without this kind of mishap. The pages in the test book were numbered incorrectly. So when students were told to consult a text on the opposite page, it was actually on a previous one.

RTI International will reimburse the Department of Education half a million dollars for their mistake. Mark Schneider of the department told the New York Times that the testing industry is stretched to provide and score valid tests, but he refused to blame to the mistake on that. A good copy editor would have caught this in 10 seconds, he said.

If you'd like to hear more, come to our Web site, npr.orj. Hey, didn't anyone proofreaded this?

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