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Response to WSJ Piece on Test Prep

Posted in Knerds on July 7, 2009 by

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David Kuntz, Vice President of Research at Knewton, sent a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in response to this article. The article intimated that many prep companies purposely lower student scores on diagnostic exams in order to produce the appearance of greater subsequent improvement. His letter was published in the June 3 print edition of the paper.

He wrote:
“Having worked for 20 years in the testing industry, both at ETS and LSAC, I can attest to the difficulty of creating diagnostic tests that accurately assess student performance. I am currently the Vice President of Research at, where the original designers of adaptive testing work alongside veterans from ACT and other high-stakes testing organizations to mirror standardized tests like the GMAT and the LSAT. Even with the actual test-makers at our disposal, we still face challenges creating perfectly accurate diagnostic exams. Knewton uses its diagnostics as the starting point for the adaptive learning process; without accurate tests it would be impossible to tailor a specific course of study for an individual student. I like to give my colleagues in the test industry the benefit of the doubt; these tests are extremely difficult to replicate. Further, a diagnostic test that does not in fact diagnose has no pedagogical value.”