Education Drivers

End of Course Exams

End of Course Exams (EOCE) are summative assessments used to evaluate student proficiency with regards to the content covered in a course. This analysis is limited to standardized EOCE. Because they occur at the end, EOCE have no diagnostic value, but have potential for use by teachers and administrators for improving future instruction.

EOCE’s differ from standardized achievement tests in several ways. EOCE’s are limited to a single topic; whereas, standardized achievement tests cover a wide range of subjects. EOCE’s are administered shortly after a course, achievement tests are generally administered at the beginning and/or end of the year.

The following reasons are commonly cited for using EOCE’s:

  • Assess the effectiveness of instruction
  • Increase academic rigor of courses
  • Hold students, teachers, and schools accountable for achievement
  • Improve alignment of curriculum and instruction to standards
  • Increase the consistency of course work across schools
  • As a high stakes measure of skills and knowledge required for qualification to courses, graduation, and/or for university placement

At this time nearly half of U.S. states embrace EOCE’s. Despite its growing popularity, little research is available to ascertain the overall effectiveness of the practice.

End of Course Exams (EOCE) are summative assessments used to evaluate student proficiency with regards to the content covered in a course. This analysis is limited to standardized EOCE. Because they occur at the end, EOCE have no diagnostic value, but have potential for use by teachers and administrators for improving future instruction.

EOCE’s differ from standardized achievement tests in several ways. EOCE’s are limited to a single topic; whereas, standardized achievement tests cover a wide range of subjects. EOCE’s are administered shortly after a course, achievement tests are generally administered at the beginning and/or end of the year.

The following reasons are commonly cited for using EOCE’s:

Assess the effectiveness of instruction
Increase academic rigor of courses
Hold students, teachers, and schools accountable for achievement
Improve alignment of curriculum and instruction to standards
Increase the consistency of course work across schools
As a high stakes measure of skills and knowledge required for qualification to courses, graduation, and/or for university placement
At this time nearly half of U.S. states embrace EOCE’s. Despite its growing popularity, little research is available to ascertain the overall effectiveness of the practice.

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The role of end-of-course exams and minimum competency exams in standards-based reforms.

This paper describes the role end of course exams can play in the standards based reform movement.

Bishop, J. H., Mane, F., Bishop, M., Moriarty, J., Murnane, R., & Steinberg, L. T,. (2001). The role of end-of-course exams and minimum competency exams in standards-based reforms. Brookings papers on education policy, 4, 267-345.

STATE END-OF-COURSE TESTING PROGRAMS: A Policy Brief

In recent years the number of states that have adopted or plan to implement end of course (EOC) tests as part of their high school assessment program has grown rapidly. While EOC tests certainly offer great promise, they are not without challenges. Many of the proposed uses of EOC tests open new and often complex issues related to design and implementation. The purpose of this brief is to support education leaders and policy makers in making appropriate technical and operational decisions to maximize the benefit of EOC tests and address the challenges.

Brief, A. P. (2011). State End-of-Course Testing Programs.

State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report.

This paper reviews the use of exit exams across the states and identifies challenges in implementation of these exams and what we know about the effects of them.

Chudowsky, N., Kober, N., Gayler, K. S., & Hamilton, M. (2002). State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report. ERIC. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED472055.pdf

The Relationship between Advanced Placement and College Graduation. 2005 AP Study Series, Report 1.

Dougherty, C., Mellor, L., & Jian, S. (2006). The Relationship between Advanced Placement and College Graduation. 2005 AP Study Series, Report 1. National Center for Educational Accountability. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519365.pdf

An evaluation of the impact of end-of-course exams and ACT-QualityCore on US history instruction in a Kentucky high school

This study evaluated the effect data from end of course exams had on teacher practices in history instruction.  In general, the teachers supported the changes but were reluctant to change their instructional practices.

Mueller, R. G. W., & Colley, L. M. (2015). An evaluation of the impact of end-of-course exams and ACT-QualityCore on US history instruction in a Kentucky high school. The Journal of Social Studies Research. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/41700187/JSSR.pdf

The district effect: Systemic responses to high stakes accountability policies in six southern states

This study evaluated the effects of high stakes test such as end of course exams at the level of a school district.  Across the six states included in the study  the effects were mixed.  In general the more developed the system was the better the effects but this was not always the case.

Opfer, V. D., Henry, G. T., & Mashburn, A. J. (2008). The district effect: Systemic responses to high stakes accountability policies in six southern states. American Journal of Education, 114(2), 299-332. Retrieved from http://www.darleenopfer.com/File/aje final.pdf

Incorporating End-of-Course Exam Timing Into Educational Performance Evaluations

There is increased interest in extending the test-based evaluation framework in K-12 education to achievement in high school. High school achievement is typically measured by performance on end-of-course exams (EOCs), which test course-specific standards in subjects including algebra, biology, English, geometry, and history, among others. Recent research indicates that when students take particular courses can have important consequences for achievement and subsequent outcomes. The contribution of the present study is to develop an approach for modeling EOC test performance regarding the timing of course.

Parsons, E., Koedel, C., Podgursky, M., Ehlert, M., & Xiang, P. B. (2015). Incorporating end-of-course exam timing into educational performance evaluations. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(1), 130-147.

Can high stakes testing leverage educational improvement? Prospects from the last decade of testing and accountability reform.

This paper examines the use of high stakes testing such as end of course exams in American education.  The conclusions are that the exams do not produce substantive changes in instructional practices and the information is useful to measure school and system progress but has limited utility for instructional guidance.

Supovitz, J. (2009). Can high stakes testing leverage educational improvement? Prospects from the last decade of testing and accountability reform. Journal of Educational Change, 10(2-3), 211-227.

State High School Exit Exams: A Move toward End-of-Course Exams.

This report updates the status of high school exit exams nationally.  The number of states using end of course exams as part of accountability measures has become more common and data suggest the trend will continue.

Zabala, D., Minnici, A., McMurrer, J., & Briggs, L. (2008). State High School Exit Exams: A Move toward End-of-Course Exams. Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504468.pdf

End-of-Course Exams

This report provides information on states that require students enrolled in courses that have an end-of-course (EOC) exam to take the EOC

Zinth, J. D. (2012). End-of-Course Exams. Education Commission of the States (NJ3).

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