Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Copyright re: school standardized tests

So I found an interesting website today, detailing a court case regarding school standardized tests. I am intrigued, since I am in the education field, and was not sure what copyright issues would come up regarding testing.

In the case I read about, a school had created "re-usable" standardized tests: that is, the questions would be used from year to year, and teachers were forbidden from copying the tests and using the questions to practice with the students. While the tests were not going to be published for any profit, and the test materials were unpublished at the time (still in the developmental stages of the test being written), the court ruled the tests were still protected by copyright.

Evidently, a teacher with a crusade against standardized testing began publishing some of the questions to his/her students, which made those questions unable to be used on future tests. Now, I have a major problem with standardized testing, but committing copyright infringement is not the way to go about undermining the system. The courts ruled in favor of the school, proving that unpublished materials, even those with no intent of being sold for a profit, are protected if they are stolen or misused.

Hoffman, I. (2008). Fair use: unpublished works. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from


J. Urick said...

Interesting article! I as an educator as well can understand teachers frustration with standardized testing; however, I agree with you in that it is wrong to copy these tests. It is sad that we are drilling kids with these tests that we want copies of them to practice! I know some teachers at my school are finding practice tests, but I'm not sure where; I'll have to ask them and see if they are in violation of copyright laws!


ILONA said...

Some teachers came to believe that the only way to "teach to the test" is to copy the test and teach it during the year. Some teachers were threatened by admin that if their students did not "make AYP" then they needed to consider looking for another job.

Pretty harsh world out there. It seems that its always about the almighty "dollar".

I was amazed though with the courts ruling. Great article!

jenmcconnel said...

I think in this case, it wasn't a matter of a teacher trying to better prepare his students...he was publishing the tests in an effort to undermine standardized testing in the school, by making the test null since students had seen the answers...

It's interesting the lengths people will go to to fight standardized why do we still depend on it so much?