Standardized Testing and the Controversy Surrounding It
Standardized Testing and the Controversy Surrounding It PDF
Polster, P.P., Detrich, R., & States, J., (2021). Standardized Testing: The Controversy Surrounding It. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/student-standardized-tests.
The depth and breadth of the backlash against statewide standardized testing in recent years and the continued attacks on testing from both the left and the right suggest there’s a very real chance that Congress could abandon the ESSA [Every Student Succeeds Act] testing mandate when it next rewrites the law. That, in turn, could mean the end of annual statewide testing in many parts of the country and an end to the transparency and civil rights protections it was designed to produce. (Olson & Jerald, 2020, p. 12)
As is the case with so many other topics these days, the term “standardized testing” has taken on a new meaning and may provoke surprisingly passionate responses from administrators, teachers, parents, and school board members. The purpose of this overview is to provide a general understanding of standardized testing as well as the current controversy surrounding it, particularly in the context of performance-based accountability systems. The overview addresses the following questions related to standardized testing:
- What do stakeholders need to understand about standardized testing?
- What is the history of standardized tests and how have the tests been used?
- What are the reasons for the current controversy over standardized testing?
References to the state of Missouri are used as examples throughout the overview because the first author has several years of experience supporting improvement efforts in the state. Missouri may not be a representative example but is used as an example.
If you don’t know where you are you’re lost, and it doesn’t matter that you know where you want to go. (Bushell & Baer, 1994, p. 4)
Each month, a group of new Missouri school board members receives training as required by Missouri Code of State Regulations (2021). The current requirement is that new board members receive 18.5 hours of training on a range of topics, including “evaluation of progress toward goals” and “information on student performance techniques and reporting” (5 CSR 20-400.400, p. 25). For this reason, and because research on effective school boards indicates that a focus on student achievement and outcomes is correlated with positive student achievement results (Lee & Eadens, 2014; Shober & Hartney, 2014), this overview spends some time reviewing Missouri’s accountability system and district standardized testing results.
Some new board members find this portion of the training frustrating. They think that measuring a district’s performance shouldn’t be so complicated. And yet it certainly is. Aspirations for the public education system are lofty and nearly as diverse as the student body. Everyone wants schools to produce students who are model citizens and independent thinkers and problem solvers, but who are also college and career ready as well as curious and caring. But how can such goals be measured?
School board members aren’t the only stakeholders struggling with that question. Researchers studying performance-based accountability systems across sectors (Stecher et al., 2010) found agreement on broad goals in education, but not on specific performance elements. In his book on value-added measurement in education, Harris (2011) pointed out that “The process of defining performance measures forces stakeholders to think carefully about what the school is trying to accomplish. The resulting performance measures in turn help to define that mission in concrete terms” (p. 14).
Wainer (1994) asserted that the most critical measure of any educational system is student performance. Yet a common criticism of current test-based accountability systems is that they are overly reliant on standardized tests of student achievement. However, critics of standardized testing have failed to recommend any valid, reliable alternatives to standardized tests for measuring student achievement outcomes or the effectiveness of instruction in a given setting.
Given that schools are faced with an increasingly broad scope of services, the process of identifying agreed-upon outcome measures to support educational accountability systems is extraordinarily complex. In fact, measuring even one student’s academic achievement is complex. Many state accountability systems attempt to translate each and every student’s standardized achievement test score into an overall or comprehensive measure of the district (or school)’s academic performance. After all, that is what statewide annual accountability tests are intended to do. For example, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (2020) describes its accountability system this way:
The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the Missouri Learning Standards (MLS). The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, district, and state levels. This information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses in relation to the instruction of the MLS, and to gauge the overall quality of education throughout Missouri [emphasis added].
A summary of ESSA final regulations on assessments under Title I (Every School Succeeds Act, 2017) makes the argument this way: “High-quality assessments are essential to effectively educating students, measuring progress, and promoting equity. Done well and thoughtfully, they provide critical information for educators, families, the public, and students themselves… Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, however, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning” (para. 1).
Yet, in a recent report, Olson and Jerald (2020) warned that the future of statewide testing was in peril:
But a close analysis of the political landscape of standardized testing makes clear that unless a new generation of tests can play a more meaningful role in classroom instruction, and unless testing proponents can reconvince policymakers and the public that state testing is an important ingredient of school improvement and integral to advancing educational equity, annual state tests and the safeguards they provide are clearly at risk. (p. 2)
Around that same time, The Washington Post ran an article titled “It Looks Like the Beginning of the End of America’s Obsession With Student Standardized Testing” (Strauss, 2020a). For some, the article was cause for celebration, and for others, cause for concern.
What Do Stakeholders Need to Understand About Standardized Testing?
The terms “standardized testing” and “standardized assessment” are often used interchangeably, but generally a test is a specific type of assessment. Kubiszyn and Borich (2016) described tests and specific assessments as tools in a comprehensive assessment process. A test consists of one product or tool to support assessment, whereas the assessment process may include other tools such as an interview and observation. The standardized test, which poses the same questions to all test takers and scores the answers in a consistent or standard way in order to produce results that are as objective, comparable, and reliable as possible, is the type of test used across the country for accountability purposes.
In his primer on standardized testing, Phelps (2007) lauded the value of standardization: “The student scores can be compared either to each other or to a threshold level of achievement. Arguably, the chief benefit of standardized testing is the standardization itself” (p. 4). However, in the years since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 enacted punitive measures associated with poor performance on annual state assessments, the annual standardized tests administered by states were often referred to as high-stakes tests.
The fact that standardized tests have been used in ways that can have serious, often punitive consequences for students, teachers, and administrators has ultimately led to inappropriate practices in schools and, in turn, to much of the controversy surrounding standardized testing. Complaints related to standardized testing include excessive time spent on test preparation; cheating by teachers and administrators; exclusion or reduction of content that is not tested, such as fine arts or physical education; and increased stress on teachers and students.
Standardized tests can be norm referenced, meaning a test-taker’s performance is compared to a representative sample. However, in the case of state accountability systems, standardized tests are generally standards based or criterion referenced, meaning that a test-taker’s performance is dependent on mastery of content standards.
Harris (2011) examined the critical features of standardized tests: design (norm referenced versus criterion referenced); how results are reported (e.g., proficiency, scale scores, percentile rank); and how results are used (low stakes versus high stakes). Other crucial features of tests used for accountability or program evaluation are reliability (the extent to which consistent results can be expected if a test were readministered) and validity (the extent to which a test actually measures what it is intended to measure).
Perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to the quality of any test is validity, or the purpose for which it was created. Hamilton et al. (2002) noted, “One of the key points to understand in evaluating and using tests is that tests should be evaluated relative to the purpose for which the scores are used. A test that is valid for one purpose is not necessarily valid for another” (p. xvi).
Some of the current criticism related to standardized tests used for state accountability systems is rooted in a misunderstanding of their purpose. This misunderstanding often is reported in the popular press as it was in a Forbes article, “There are many problems with the testing regimen, but a big issue for classroom teachers is that the tests do not help the teacher do her job” (Greene, 2019). It is also used as a criticism of testing, as in this case: “High-stakes testing regimes have limits as information tools. The data from high-stakes tests are useful to policymakers for assessing school and system-level performance but insufficient for individual-level accountability and provide meager information for instructional guidance.” (Supowitz, 2021).
Statements such as these are confusing and misleading to stakeholders because they misrepresent the purpose of standardized tests used for accountability. The standardized tests used as a critical aspect of state accountability systems are not intended to guide teachers’ daily instruction. Rather, they are designed to measure the performance of the district (or school, depending on the level at which data are examined) and facilitate performance-based accountability. No single test can effectively serve multiple purposes.
Chingos et al. (2015) stated that “how much students learn in school makes a big difference in their lives, and standardized tests capture valid information on this.” Put another way, annual standardized tests are intended to serve as an assessment of learning. Stiggins et al. (2006) made the following distinction between assessment of learning and assessment for learning:
Assessments of learning are those assessments that happen after learning is supposed to have occurred to determine if it did. ...Assessments for learning happen while learning is still underway. These are the assessments that we conduct throughout teaching and learning to diagnose student needs, plan our next steps in instruction, provide students with feedback they can use to improve the quality of their work, and help students see and feel in control of their journey to success. (pg. 31)
The distinction between formative assessment and summative assessment is similar to that between assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Formative assessment is an assessment for learning (States et al., 2017) while summative assessment is an assessment of learning (States et al., 2018). Because summative assessment occurs after instruction has taken place, it is not expected to impact a particular student’s learning. A teacher who administers a brief pretest before beginning a unit of instruction to gauge a given student’s familiarity with the content and then uses the results to plan instruction that better meets the student’s needs is engaging in formative assessment, or assessment for learning. If that same teacher administers an assessment after teaching several lessons and uses the results to grade the student, then he or she is engaging in summative assessment, or assessment of learning. Summative assessment can be expected to improve learning outcomes if the results are used in a manner that improves instructional practices; even so, the improvement may occur only for subsequent cohorts of students, when the teacher teaches the same course again.
Both formative and summative assessments can be standardized. For instance, AIMSweb and iReady are web-based standardized formative assessments intended to be administered throughout the school year. End-of-year state assessments are examples of standardized summative assessments. Likewise, both formative and summative assessments can be teacher created (not standardized). A quick teacher-created pop quiz administered in the middle of a unit as a way of planning the next day’s instruction is an example of a non-standardized formative assessment. A teacher-created end-of-semester exam that will be graded, returned to students, and included on the report card is an example of a non-standardized summative assessment.
Key terms related to assessment
Because state accountability tests are now standards based, many states have seen numerous changes in accountability testing in the past 10 years or so. Federal changes to accountability requirements and the subsequent adjustments by states have resulted in changes to tests. The push to get all states to adopt the same standards (Common Core), which most states did, was followed by a backlash against those standards and, in several states, a return to state-specific learning standards. Changes in standards result in changes in tests, and changes in standards and tests result in changes in curriculum. All of these changes in standards, tests, and curriculum have resulted in frustration and stress for teachers, who are expected to adjust their instruction with each change.
Tests aren’t perfect from the outset. The fact that most stakeholders are unfamiliar with the process of test development likely adds to a sense of skepticism. The tests must be calibrated to the learning standards they are intended to measure. This process is defined in each state and includes varying levels of stakeholder input; for example, stakeholders in Missouri can reference the 2019 grade-level assessment technical report (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2019). Hamilton et al. (2002) provided a general overview of the process as well as evaluation strategies. Ultimately, the true test of annual standardized tests as measures of accountability would be to analyze the results in the context of longer term desired student outcomes, which would require several years of consistent implementation as well as longitudinal follow-up of graduates.
What Is the History of Standardized Tests and How Have the Tests Been Used?
Despite the frequent good intentions and abundant rhetoric about “equal educational opportunity,” schools have rarely taught the children of the poor effectively—and this failure has been systematic, not idiosyncratic. (Tyack, 1974, p. 8)
As was mentioned previously, school board members in Missouri are required to receive training on how to monitor progress toward goals. A look back at the history of standardized assessments indicates that this was the original intention of some early testing proponents. Gallagher (2003) noted that the educational reformer Horace Mann became one of the first proponents of standardized assessment when, in 1845, he persuaded the Boston Public School Committee to allow him to administer a common written exam that he hoped would “provide objective information about the quality of teaching and learning in urban schools, monitor the quality of instruction, and compare schools and teachers within each school” (p. 85). Phelps (2007) reported that Mann used standardized tests for systemwide quality control and to ensure content or performance standards. His approach was adopted by school systems in nearly all U.S. cities.
Another example of the early use of standardized testing to measure instructional outcomes is described in a book by Samuel S. Brooks published in 1922. The author explained that his book
to tell in a simple way how standardized tests and scales were used to improve schools in a newly organized rural-school district in New Hampshire. …It is the story of how a corps of faithful, hard-working, but mostly untrained teachers, with the aid of an inexperienced superintendent, put standardized tests and measurements to practical use throughout a school system to the considerable advantage of all concerned. (p. 6)
In addition to measuring school or district performance, standardized tests were also developed to measure individual student cognitive functioning. These efforts led to the release in 1916 of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, which was followed by various aptitude tests. The aptitude tests were embraced by the military and seen as useful tools. In education, however, the use of IQ tests has led to some questionable practices and outcomes. For example, in California the use of IQ testing for the purpose of special education placement was banned for Black students in a decision referred to as the Larry P case (Larry P v Riles, 1979). In that case, Black male students were overidentified for special education services and those services did not meet their needs. California adjusted the identification process and now incorporates a discrepancy between grade level and academic achievement (Title 5 California Code of Regulations § 3030, 2014.). However, it can be argued that any discrepancy model is in fact a “wait to fail” approach and is detrimental to students (Fletcher et al., 2002; Gresham, 2002; Torgeson, 2001). For further discussion of the early misuse of IQ testing in education, see Goslin, 1967.
The first voluntary statewide administration of student achievement tests took place in Iowa in 1929 (Gallagher, 2003). In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson recognized significant disparities in educational funding and outcomes throughout the country and among local school districts; he issued the first federal educational testing mandate with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Paul, 2016). The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), developed in response to this legislation, was intended to help assess the impact of additional education funding. Today, the NAEP is still administered across the country, although the frequency of its administration has been reduced (Loveless, 2016).
ESEA has been renamed with each subsequent reauthorization. Its 2001 reauthorization as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) further addressed equity with a requirement to measure student achievement in reading and math every year from grades 3 through 8 and to report student achievement data in a disaggregated format that allowed for analysis of the persistent achievement gaps the legislation was intended to address. However, with that authorization, performance targets and punitive measures were also established, resulting in a significant backlash against standardized testing. Before the legislation was reauthorized, the Obama administration did away with the punitive measures through a waiver process. ESEA was most recently reauthorized in 2015 as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
What Are the Reasons for the Current Controversy Over Standardized Testing?
If our children’s scores on standard tests were getting significantly higher, or if the spread of scores were more equitably distributed by race, class, and gender, or if American kids were further from the bottom on international rankings, these unceasing attacks on standardized tests would subside. (Hirsch, 1996, p. 180)
A great deal of literature (but very little research) criticizing the practice of annual standardized testing and/or advocating for alternative methods of measuring school quality preceded and followed the long overdue reauthorization of ESEA as ESSA in 2015 (e.g., Gabor, 2020; Greene, 2019; Kohn, 2020; Koretz, 2017; Ravitch, 2011; Sawchuk, 2019; Strauss, 2020b). With ESSA, opponents of testing succeeded in establishing a requirement to include a new or different measure of school performance (to be determined by each state in its accountability system) as a way of offsetting some of the weight of standardized academic achievement test results. However, they were unable to remove the annual testing requirement in grades 3 through 8 math and reading, which allows for measures of growth or value-added at the school or district level.
Olson and Jerald (2020) found increasing evidence of anti-testing efforts in state capitals across the country. Between 2014 and 2019, lawmakers in 44 states introduced at least 426 bills and 20 resolutions to reduce the amount of testing, and 36 of those states enacted measures. In 2020, for the first time since 1994, the federally mandated annual standardized tests were not administered due to the closure of schools during the pandemic (Gewertz, 2020). In the months since, with the continued effects of the pandemic and the transition to a new presidential administration, numerous articles about standardized testing indicated that public opinion was leaning heavily against the use of standardized tests in spring 2021 (e.g., Bell-Ellwanger, 2021; Gabor, 2020; Greene, 2020; Olson & Jerald, 2020; Silver & Polikoff, 2020; Strauss, 2020b, 2021). This would leave district leaders without objective data to assess the effectiveness of instruction provided during exceedingly difficult circumstances. Also, district leaders wouldn’t be able to compare the effects of in-person versus virtual learning unless they administered their own standardized tests.
In 2005, Phelps reported, “Public support for high-stakes testing is consistent and long standing, and majority opinion has never flipped from support to opposition” (p. 21). However, more recent evidence regarding public opinion on standardized testing is mixed. The PDK/Gallup Poll (2015) reported that “Testing came in last as a measure of effectiveness with just 14% of public school parents rating test scores as very important. …64% of Americans and a similar proportion of public school parents said there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in the public schools in their community” (p. 8). A valid argument could be made about the dubious wording of some of the questions in the poll such as this one, for example “Thinking of the standardized tests your child in public school takes, how confident are you that these tests do a good job measuring how well your child is learning?” Yet a survey by Education Next (2019) indicated that a large majority of the general public (those who strongly support as well as those who somewhat support,74%) still supported the federal government’s testing requirements. Teachers who were members of unions were the only reported demographic in which a majority (those who were strongly opposed as well as those who were somewhat opposed, 64%) opposed the testing requirements.
Some of the criticism against the use of standardized testing in accountability systems has been well founded. For example, NCLB’s use of status or simple proficiency did not accurately measure the contribution of schools to student outcomes. The fact that proficiency is so tightly correlated with poverty means that measuring only proficiency may simply be a reflection of a student’s starting point or learning opportunities outside of school rather than the effectiveness of the instructional program.
The shift from simple proficiency to measures of student growth represents a significant improvement in accountability practice and in the use of standardized test scores to measure the performance of schools and districts. However, the methodology has evolved over the past decade and is quite complex, which may make it difficult for those unfamiliar with the methodology to accept. (See Cleaver et al., 2020, and Harris, 2011, for a thorough explanation of value-added measures of school performance.) An important point to remember is that measures of growth and subsequent value-added can only be calculated if tests are administered annually. Those who wish to remove the requirement for annual testing may argue that demographic adjustments can be made to account for background concerns. Chingos and West (2015) explained why this is not a satisfactory alternative:
The reason growth measures outperform demographic adjustments when judging school quality is straightforward: although student characteristics such as family income are strongly correlated with test scores, the correlation is not perfect.
In sum, our results confirm that using average test scores from a single year to judge school quality is unacceptable from a fairness and equity perspective. Using demographic adjustments is an unsatisfying alternative for at least two reasons. In addition to providing less accurate information about the causal impact of schools on their students’ learning, the demographic adjustments implicitly set lower expectations for some groups of students than for others (para. 9 and 10).
Additional criticisms that have been leveled against standardized testing are addressed below, by topic area.
Testing vs. assessment (narrow vs. broad). A test can be seen as part of a broader assessment process. Critics of standardized tests (e.g., Kohn, 2020; Koretz, 2017; Ravitch, 2011) are concerned that the tests cannot measure important qualities like citizenship or higher order thinking skills, but instead measure only rote memorization and basic skills. According to Kohn (2020), “The problems with standardized tests aren’t just a function of overusing or attaching high stakes to them. By their very nature, they fail to capture the intellectual proficiencies that matter most.” Kohn did not suggest how those proficiencies might be accurately or adequately measured.
With the ESSA reauthorization, the U.S. Congress invited states to develop their own new measures by requiring the identification of non-academic factors in their accountability systems. Adams et al. (2017) recommended what they called “next generation accountability,” which would change the goal from increasing test scores to encouraging deeper learning. They proposed developing a new system of measuring student learning that emphasized assessing higher order cognitive skills and benchmarking assessments to international standards, and suggested including surveys to assess students’ perceptions of more conceptual qualities of education such as student social climate, student-teacher trust, motivating instruction, and perceived opportunities to engage in deeper learning. The authors described deeper learning opportunities as “cognitive and noncognitive competencies needed for effective participation in the workforce and active citizenship” (p. 33) but they provided no suggestions as to how those competencies might be measured.
Time spent testing and test prepping. A report from Council of the Great City Schools (Hart, 2015) found that school districts sometimes administer several different assessments to the same students in the same grade levels in order to facilitate more specific data analysis. This type of inefficiency, coupled with the addition of formative assessments (which may be standardized), contributes to the perception that students are over-tested and may well influence public opinion against standardized testing.
The practice of test preparation is a frequent target of critics and for good reason. Any preparation for standardized testing that goes beyond a simple explanation of the format and what students can expect likely represents a misunderstanding of the purpose of the standardized tests used for accountability purposes, which is to evaluate the quality of the instructional program. District leaders who allow any significant amount of test preparation may actually be invalidating their results because they won’t know if the outcomes represent the effects of the instructional program or the test preparation. Both formative assessments and test preparation are under the control of local education officials. They are not required by federal or state accountability systems. Yet to uninformed stakeholders they may be lumped into the same category: over-testing.
Teaching to the test. Critics also claim that standardized testing results in a narrowing of the curriculum because teachers begin to “teach to the test,” that is, focus on tested subjects such as math and reading to the detriment of other subjects such as history or science. Many non-critics take the view that teaching to the test is simply teaching to a set of agreed-upon standards (Crocker, 2005; Popham, 2001).
Good instructional practice dictates that there should be a clear relationship between what is taught and what is tested. Each state has identified agreed-upon standards and designed their accountability tests to assess mastery of those standards. It is up to each local district to design and deliver a curricular program that will promote student mastery of those standards and to assess the effectiveness of that curricular program.Unfortunately, Supowitz (2021) has reported that although high-stakes testing does prompt some changes in instruction, “these changes tend to be superficial adjustments of practice that are often focused on modifications in content coverage and test preparation practices rather than deep improvements to instruction efforts.” This indicates that districts are not using accountability testing results to evaluate the effectiveness of their instructional programming.
Standards. NCLB required annual standardized testing in all states, in math and reading for grades 3 through 8. The legislation set targets for states in terms of the percentage of students scoring “proficient,” although there was no consistent definition of “proficiency” as states had their own standards (Cronin et al., 2007). Each year, the proficiency target increased. Punitive consequences for districts and schools that failed to meet targets increased incrementally and could ultimately result in schools being reconstituted (meaning that administrators and/or other staff were assigned to other buildings). Because NCLB enacted such punitive measures and was associated with an increase in standardized testing nationwide, negative sentiment about the legislation (Jackson, 2015) may well have carried over to negative feelings about standardized testing.
The variance in measuring proficiency is still an issue (Hamlin & Peterson, 2018; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2020); however, the situation seems to be less problematic without the punitive consequences under ESSA.
The controversy over the Common Core State Standards also may have contributed to negative perceptions of the standardized tests designed to measure them. Critics claimed that the standards represented a federal overreach and that the testing companies contracted to design tests were driven by self-interest and profit motive (McArdle, 2014). Advocates of standardized testing would generally support the notion of common standards across states due to the enhanced comparability of data; the ability to examine one district’s data in the context of one or more demographically similar districts adds context and makes the data more meaningful.
Concerns about the origins of learning standards don’t end with the Common Core. Even in states that have returned to their own standards, critics question how standards were developed and more importantly, how “cut scores” were established. Cut scores are the points at which new levels of performance are determined. For example, in Missouri, student performance falls into one of four categories: advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. Interested Missouri residents can peruse a 564 page technical report for answers to their questions about Missouri Assessment Program test development and scoring determinations (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2019). A similar document was not located for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College or Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments which are both based on the Common Core State Standards.
The misuse of tests in education. Even well-known testing critic Daniel Koretz (2017) admitted (more than halfway into his book condemning standardized testing) that standardized tests belong in any system of monitoring and accountability. “Many critics of our current system blame standardized tests, but for all the damage that test-based accountability has caused, the problem has not been testing itself but rather the rampant misuse of testing” (p. 219).
Kubiszyn and Borich (2016) described how Waco, Texas, used standardized test scores in 1998 to make promotion decisions, resulting in the percentage of students held back increasing from 2% the previous year to 20%. The authors noted that Chicago public schools had launched a similar program in 1994, substantially increasing the number of students held back.
At times, achievement has been conflated with ability and standardized tests have been a factor in those discussions. Education’s history of tracking students into certain study programs based on estimations of ability is problematic. No parent wants to be told that his or her child’s potential has been established and is fixed. Claiming to measure ability puts a cap on possibility. To some extent, education has implied that achievement test results are indicative of potential, failing to acknowledge that even students who have faced significant adversity and who have not had a rich learning background can achieve at high levels with effective instruction. Parents and other stakeholders have been rightly frustrated by this. See Goslin (1963, 1967) for a thorough discussion on the early use, and misuse, of standardized testing.
Role of standardized tests in accountability systems. Much of the consternation over standardized testing may well be related to the punitive consequences associated with it, as well as concerns about its role in instruction and grade promotion. Perhaps the most telling example of the high stakes for teachers can be seen in a website hosted by the Los Angeles Times (2021) that provides value-added ratings for 11,500 Los Angeles Unified elementary school teachers. Imagine a similar rating system in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. It’s easy to understand how these practices could generate negative opinions around testing and an inordinate amount of stress for teachers. It also may explain why some educators have resorted to cheating.
Critics of standardized testing often point to cheating scandals as evidence that standardized test results are not valid. However, standardized tests include security protocols that make irregularities easier to detect and cheating more difficult. Critics also assert that it is the high-stakes nature of the tests that causes professionals to game the system (Porter-Magee, 2013). A proponent of standardized testing might say that any cheating is a symptom of dysfunction within the system. Education leaders who embrace standardized testing as a tool to support improvement will not cause students or staff to feel the need to cheat. Those leaders will demonstrate that the test results are a reflection of the instructional program by utilizing the results to gauge program effectiveness and not to point fingers or call out individuals. They may also use the results to support or inform teacher development, but in a manner that emphasizes collaborative improvement.
Teachers’ perception of their limited control over student achievement outcomes may contribute to the stress caused by the use of standardized test scores in the teacher evaluation process. Much of the education literature is filled with the factors correlated with low student achievement, such as poverty, trauma, violence, and screen time. This may lead some teachers to feel that they face insurmountable odds and are expected to work miracles. Holding teachers alone responsible for the results of standardized tests would be a violation of Harris’s (2011) “cardinal rule of accountability—hold people accountable for what they can control” (p. 4). We might consider asking, To what extent do teachers have a say in the instructional programs and practices that they are expected to implement? As Carnine (1992) pointed out, “Teachers deserve the same protection as members of other professions—access to tools that have been carefully evaluated to ascertain their effectiveness” (p. 7). If teachers were provided with effective instructional tools and trained in effective instructional practices, then the next appropriate step would be to consider their implementation of those tools and practices. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case.
This gets at a much bigger issue in education: failure to embrace an evidence-based approach. Wiggins (1994) pointed the finger at a failure to be results oriented rather than at the tests themselves. In their discussion of whether or not accountability was working for education, Elmore and Furhman (2001) noted that few schools took the bold step of reevaluating their instructional programs. Many educators are still implementing reading practices and tools that are listed as “not recommended” (National Council on Teacher Quality, 2020). If a district dictates instructional tools and practices but fails to evaluate their effectiveness, is it fair to hold teachers accountable for outcomes?
If school and district leaders focused their attention on test results at the system level, they could foster a focus on instructional practices, which are the highest leverage factors teachers have at their disposal to improve student achievement. Yet, instructional materials and practices are often implemented without any empirical evidence of their effectiveness (Carnine, 1992; National Research Council, 2004; Whitehurst, 2004). For example, between 1990 and 2007, the National Science Foundation spent an estimated $93 million on the development, revision, and dissemination of mathematics materials. Yet, a report by the National Research Council (2004) found the effectiveness of individual programs that benefited from that funding could not be determined with a high degree of certainty. Walker (2004) noted that educators did not have a good track record of accessing evidence-based interventions and putting them to effective use in schools.
One of the biggest problems with test-based accountability is that educators do not have the time, resources, or training to interpret and use test data to improve teaching and learning. (Harris, 2011, p. 31)
According to Chingos et al. (2015), “Scores that students receive on standardized tests administered in schools are strongly predictive of later life outcomes” and “information on school performance that does not include information on student learning as measured by standardized tests will be badly compromised” (Student Learning Impacts Long-Term Outcomes section). The current trajectory of the swinging pendulum of public opinion on standardized testing may result in throwing the baby out with the bath water and compromise district leaders’ ability to effectively evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programming to improve student learning outcomes.
A report from Council of the Great City Schools (Hart et al., 2015) found no correlation between the amount of mandated testing time and reading and math scores in grades 4 and 8 on NAEP. One would be hard-pressed to find a credible researcher claiming that time spent testing could be expected to improve performance, yet the fact that the authors performed such an analysis indicates that someone thought such a result was possible. Could it be that some stakeholders believed the tests themselves would somehow improve achievement? If so, this may explain some amount of the dissatisfaction that’s been reported. It is best to keep in mind testing critic Diane Ravitch’s clear statement: “The tests are a measure, not a remedy” (Strauss, 2021).
In the 2016–2017 school year, expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools totaled $739 billion dollars (NCES, n.d.). For such an investment, stakeholders expect to see evidence of results. School board members across the nation are tasked with a fiduciary responsibility for the responsible allocation of district resources. Given that the purpose of public schools is ultimately related to student learning, responsible leaders require a high-quality measure—meaning that it should be objective, valid, and reliable—of student learning to facilitate improvement efforts. However, in 2019, the board president in a well-resourced district in Missouri stated that she felt teacher-created tests were more valid than the state tests. Such a statement by a board president indicates a disregard for objectivity, validity, and reliability in assessment. The statement also indicates that this particular board president did not value or desire system-level measurement or comparability across districts.
This brings to mind a statement by Koretz (2017), who acknowledged that the schools his children attended were among the highest scoring in the state and that his neighborhood was filled with parents holding advanced degrees: “I used to joke that students in the schools my kids attended could be locked in the basement all day and would still do fine on tests” (p. 196). In circumstances of privilege, maybe standardized testing isn’t as essential. Perhaps, Koretz’s observation is an indication that our education system is perfectly geared toward students who come from privilege. Or maybe it’s an indication that it doesn’t much matter what the instructional program looks like for some children because the majority of them will do just fine, regardless. But even in circumstances of privilege, there will be some students who struggle. Some districts will see this struggle as a sign of some sort of disability while others will take the responsibility to ensure that their instructional program is effective for all students.
Perhaps a shift in the conversation around standardized testing in education away from accountability and toward improvement would be helpful. There is a meaningful difference in these two approaches or mindsets. For many, the term “accountability” leads to an unpleasant feeling of defensiveness while the term “improvement” is not as threatening. If the annual standardized assessments were used as a tool to support improvement in the instructional program rather than as an evaluation of individuals, they would likely arouse fewer negative emotions, not the least of which is stress. However, as Kane (2015) has pointed out, education lacks an infrastructure to identify what works and to build consensus among education leaders about what is working.
The central debate about standardized tests may come down to how they are being used as well as how they are not being used. Much of the critics’ consternation is rooted in the use of tests to hold schools, educators, and sometimes students accountable (making them high stakes). At the same time, little evidence exists to evaluate the extent to which school district leaders use testing results to improve instructional programs.
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Is the three-term contingency trial a predictor of effective instruction?
Two experiments are reported which test the effect of increased three-term contingency trials on students' correct and incorrect math responses. The results warrant further research to test whether or not rates of presentation of three-term contingency trials are predictors of effective instruction.
Albers, A. E., & Greer, R. D. (1991). Is the three-term contingency trial a predictor of effective instruction?. Journal of Behavioral Education, 1(3), 337-354.
Effects of Acceptability on Teachers' Implementation of Curriculum-Based Measurement and Student Achievement in Mathematics Computation
The authors investigated the hypothesis that treatment acceptability influences teachers' use of a formative evaluation system (curriculum-based measurement) and, relatedly, the amount of gain effected in math for their students.
Allinder, R. M., & Oats, R. G. (1997). Effects of acceptability on teachers' implementation of curriculum-based measurement and student achievement in mathematics computation. Remedial and Special Education, 18(2), 113-120.
Standards for educational and psychological testing
The “Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing” were approved as APA policy by the APA Council of Representatives in August 2013.
American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, Joint Committee on Standards for Educational, Psychological Testing (US), & National Council on Measurement in Education. (1985). Standards for educational and psychological testing. American Educational Research Association.
High-Stakes Testing, Uncertainty, and Student Learning
This study evaluated the relationship between scores on high stakes test and scores on other measures of learning such as NAEP and SAT scores. In general, there was no increase in student learning as a function of high stakes testing.
Amrein, A. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). High-Stakes Testing, Uncertainty, and Student Learning. Education Policy Analysis Archives.
The Impact of High-Stakes Tests on Student Academic Performance
The purpose of this study is to assess whether academic achievement in fact increases after the introduction of high-stakes tests. The first objective of this study is to assess whether academic achievement has improved since the introduction of high-stakes testing policies in the 27 states with the highest stakes written into their grade 1-8 testing policies.
Amrein-Beardsley, A., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). The Impact of High-Stakes Tests on Student Academic Performance.
Beyond Standardized Testing: Assessing Authentic Academic Achievement in the Secondary School.
This book was designed as an assessment of standardized testing and its alternatives at the secondary school level.
Archbald, D. A., & Newmann, F. M. (1988). Beyond standardized testing: Assessing authentic academic achievement in the secondary school.
Effectiveness of frequent testing over achievement: A meta analysis study
In current study, through a meta-analysis of 78 studies, it is aimed to determine the overall effect size for testing at different frequency levels and to find out other study characteristics, related to the effectiveness of frequent testing.
Başol, G., & Johanson, G. (2009). Effectiveness of frequent testing over achievement: A meta analysis study. Journal of Human Sciences, 6(2), 99-121.
Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers
There is also little or no evidence for the claim that teachers will be more motivated to improve student learning if teachers are evaluated or monetarily rewarded for student test score gains.
Baker, E. L., Barton, P. E., Darling-Hammond, L., Haertel, E., Ladd, H. F., Linn, R. L., ... & Shepard, L. A. (2010). Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers. EPI Briefing Paper# 278. Economic Policy Institute.
Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Results From the 2015 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments
Standardized tests play a critical role in tracking and comparing K-12 student progress across time, student demographics, and governing bodies (states, cities, districts). One methodology is to benchmark the each state’s proficiency standards against those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. This study does just that. Using NAEP as a common yardstick allows a comparison of different state assessments. The results confirm the wide variation in proficiency standards across states. It also documents that the significant majority of states have standards are much lower than those established by the NAEP.
Bandeira de Mello, V., Rahman, T., and Park, B.J. (2018). Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Results From the 2015 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments (NCES 2018-159). U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.
Meeting performance-based training demands: Accountability in an intervention-based practicum.
Describes the ways in which accountability methods were built into practicum experiences for specialist- and doctoral-level school psychology trainees at the University of Cincinnati.
Barnett, D. W., Daly III, E. J., Hampshire, E. M., Rovak Hines, N., Maples, K. A., Ostrom, J. K., & Van Buren, A. E. (1999). Meeting performance-based training demands: Accountability in an intervention-based practicum. School Psychology Quarterly, 14(4), 357.
High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student learning
A brief history of high-stakes testing is followed by an analysis of eighteen states with severe consequences attached to their testing programs.
Beardsley, A., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student learning. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10.
A follow-up of Follow Through: The later effects of the Direct Instruction model on children in fifth and sixth grades.
The later effects of the Direct Instruction Follow Through program were assessed at five diverse sites. Low-income fifth and sixth graders who had completed the full 3 years of this first- through third-grade program were tested on the Metropolitan Achievement Test (Intermediate level) and the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT).
Becker, W. C., & Gersten, R. (1982). A follow-up of Follow Through: The later effects of the Direct Instruction Model on children in fifth and sixth grades. American Educational Research Journal, 19(1), 75-92.
Predicting Success in College: The Importance of Placement Tests and High School Transcripts.
This paper uses student-level data from a statewide community college system to examine the validity of placement tests and high school information in predicting course grades and college performance.
Belfield, C. R., & Crosta, P. M. (2012). Predicting Success in College: The Importance of Placement Tests and High School Transcripts. CCRC Working Paper No. 42. Community College Research Center, Columbia University.
Analysis: Spring exams are the best shot state leaders have at knowing what’s happening with their students.
As 2021 begins, we can’t make assumptions about what students have learned this school year. Education leaders and teachers, of course, have interacted with students and watched them through computer screens for many months — but we won’t truly know what happened and where learning gaps exist without statewide exams.
Bell-Ellwanger, J. (2021, January 5). Analysis: Spring exams are the best shot state leaders have at knowing what’s happening with their students. The 74
What Does the Research Say About Testing?
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002 and its 2015 update, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), every third through eighth grader in U.S. public schools now takes tests calibrated to state standards, with the aggregate results made public. In a study of the nation’s largest urban school districts, students took an average of 112 standardized tests between pre-K and grade 12.
Berwick, C. (2019). What Does the Research Say About Testing? Marin County, CA: Edutopia.
Assessing the value-added effects of literary collaborative professional development on student learning.
This article reports on a 4-year longitudinal study of the effects of Literacy Collaborative (LC), a schoolwide reform model that relies primarily on the oneon-one coaching of teachers as a lever for improving student literacy learning.
Biancarosa, G., Bryk, A. S., & Dexter, E. R. (2010). Assessing the value-added effects of literacy collaborative professional development on student learning. The elementary school journal, 111(1), 7-34.
Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment
Firm evidence shows that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement, Mr. Black and Mr. Wiliam point out. Indeed, they know of no other way of raising standards for which such a strong prima facie case can be made.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2010). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 81-90.
The Hexagon Tool: Exploring Context
The Hexagon Discussion and Analysis Tool helps organizations evaluate new and existing programs and practices. This tool is designed to be used by a team to ensure diverse perspectives are represented in a discussion of the six contextual fit and feasibility factors.
Blase, K., Kiser, L. and Van Dyke, M. (2013). The Hexagon Tool: Exploring Context. Chapel Hill, NC: National Implementation Research Network, FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Houston ties teachers’ pay to test scores.
Over the objection of the teachers' union, the Board of Education here on Thursday unanimously approved the nation's largest merit pay program, which calls for rewarding teachers based on how well their students perform on standardizes tests.
Blumenthal, R. (2006). Houston ties teachers’ pay to test scores. New York Times, 13.
Who Leaves? Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement
The goal of this paper is to estimate the extent to which there is differential attrition based on teachers' value-added to student achievement.
Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). Who leaves? Teacher attrition and student achievement. Working Paper No. 14022. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/papers/w14022
Explaining the short careers of high-achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students
This paper examines New York City elementary school teachers’ decisions to stay in the same school, transfer to another school in the district, transfer to another district, or leave teaching in New York state during the first five years of their careers.
Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). Explaining the short careers of high-achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students. American Economic Review, 95(2), 166-171.
The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools.
By estimating the effect of teacher attributes using a value-added model, the analyses in this paper predict that observable qualifications of teachers resulted in average improved achievement for students in the poorest decile of schools of .03 standard deviations.
Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Rockoff, J., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high‐poverty schools. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management: The Journal of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, 27(4), 793-818.
Reconsidering the impact of high-stakes testing.
This article is an extended reanalysis of high-stakes testing on achievement. The paper focuses on the performance of states, over the period 1992 to 2000, on the NAEP mathematics assessments for grades 4 and 8.
Braun, H. (2004). Reconsidering the impact of high-stakes testing. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12(1).
This fourth edition provides in-depth treatments of critical measurement topics, and the chapter authors are acknowledged experts in their respective fields.
Brennan, R. L. (Ed.) (2006). Educational measurement (4th ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Improving schools by standardized tests
This book divides itself naturally into two parts. The first part has to do with the situation in which Superintendent Brooks found himself, with his successful campaign in educating his teachers to use standardized tests, with the results which he obtained, with the way he used these results to grade his pupils, to rate his teachers, and to evaluate methods of teaching, and finally with the use he made of intelligence tests.
Brooks, S. S. (1905). Improving schools by standardized tests. Houghton Mifflin.
National board certification and teacher effectiveness: Evidence from a random assignment experiment
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) assesses teaching practice based on videos and essays submitted by teachers. They compared the performance of classrooms of elementary students in Los Angeles randomly assigned to NBPTS applicants and to comparison teachers.
Cantrell, S., Fullerton, J., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2008). National board certification and teacher effectiveness: Evidence from a random assignment experiment (No. w14608). National Bureau of Economic Research.
International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques
This paper review the main (four) critiques that have been made of international tests, as well as the rationales and education policy analyses accompanying these critiques. This brief also discusses a set of (four) critiques around the underlying social meaning and educational policy value of international test comparisons. These comparisons indicate how students in various countries score on a particular test, but do they carry a larger meaning? This paper also have some recommendations based on their critiques.
Carnoy, M. (2015). International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques. National Education Policy Center.
Does external accountability affect student outcomes? A cross-state analysis.
This study developed a zero-to-five index of the strength of accountability in 50 states based on the use of high-stakes testing to sanction and reward schools, and analyzed whether that index is related to student gains on the NAEP mathematics test in 1996–2000.
Carnoy, M., & Loeb, S. (2002). Does external accountability affect student outcomes? A cross-state analysis. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(4), 305-331.
Seeking the Magic Metric: Using Evidence to Identify and Track School System Quality
This paper discusses the search for a “magic metric” in education: an index/number that would be generally accepted as the most efficient descriptor of school’s performance in a district.
Celio, M. B. (2013). Seeking the Magic Metric: Using Evidence to Identify and Track School System Quality. In Performance Feedback: Using Data to Improve Educator Performance (Vol. 3, pp. 97-118). Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.
Buried Treasure: Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data
This report provides a practical “management guide,” for an evidence-based key indicator data decision system for school districts and schools.
Celio, M. B., & Harvey, J. (2005). Buried Treasure: Developing A Management Guide From Mountains of School Data. Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Why annual statewide testing is critical to judging school quality
With Congress moving rapidly to revise the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), no issue has proven more contentious than whether the federal government should continue to require that states test all students in math and reading annually in grades three through eight.
Chingos, M. M., & West, M. R. (2015). Why Annual Statewide Testing Is Critical to Judging School Quality. Brookings Institution, Brown Center Chalkboard Series, January, 20.
The case for annual testing
The most recent incarnation of ESEA, signed into law in January of 2002 by President George W. Bush, is the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). We’re now 13 years into NCLB, so reauthorization is long overdue. It is not just the long delay that argues for congressional action, but the extent to which the Obama administration has replaced the provisions of the bill with its own set of priorities implemented through Race to the Top and state waivers.
Chingos, M. M., Dynarski, M., Whitehurst, G., & West, M. (2015, January 8). The case for annual testing. Brookings Institution
Can teachers be evaluated by their students’ test scores? Should they be? The use of value-added measures for teacher effectiveness in policy and practice
In this report, the author aim to provide an accessible introduction to these new measures of teaching quality and put them into the broader context of concerns over school quality and achievement gaps.
Corcoran, S. P. (2010). Can Teachers Be Evaluated by Their Students' Test Scores? Should They Be? The Use of Value-Added Measures of Teacher Effectiveness in Policy and Practice. Education Policy for Action Series. Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (NJ1).
Crocker, L. (2005). Teaching for the test: How and why test preparation is appropriate. Defending standardized testing, 159-174.
One flashpoint in the incendiary debate over standardized testing in American public
schools is the area of test preparation. The focus of this chapter is test preparation in achievement testing and it's purportedly harmful effects on students and teachers.
Crocker, L. (2005). Teaching for the test: How and why test preparation is appropriate. Defending standardized testing, 159-174.
The proficiency illusion
The Proficiency Illusion reveals that the tests that states use to measure academic progress under the No Child Left Behind Act are creating a false impression of success, especially in reading and especially in the early grades.
Cronin, J., Dahlin, M., Adkins, D., & Kingsbury, G. G. (2007). The Proficiency Illusion. Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Curriculum-based measurement and special education services: A fundamental and direct relationship.
special education as a problem solving the nature of mild handicaps person-centered versus situation-centered problems.
Deno, S. L. (1989). Curriculum-based measurement and special education services: A fundamental and direct relationship.
Identifying Valid Measures of Reading
Three concurrent validity studies were conducted to determine the relationship between performances on formative measures of reading and standardized achievement measures of reading.
Deno, S. L., Mirkin, P. K., & Chiang, B. (1982). Identifying valid measures of reading. Exceptional children, 49(1), 36-47.
Program on education policy and governance, survey 2019.
On several issues, our analysis teases out nuances in public opinion by asking variations of questions to randomly selected segments of survey participants. We divided respondents at random into two or more segments and asked each group a different version of the same general question.
Education Next. (2019). Program on education policy and governance, survey 2019.
Implementation, Sustainability, and Scaling Up of SocialEmotional and Academic Innovations in Public Schools
Based on the experiences of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and reviews of literature addressing implementation failures, observations about failures to "scale up" are presented.
Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Graczyk, P. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2003). Implementation, sustainability, and scaling up of social-emotional and academic innovations in public schools. School Psychology Review, 32(3), 303-319.
The Utility of Curriculum-Based Measurement and Performance Assessment as Alternatives to Traditional Intelligence and Achievement Tests.
Curriculum-based measurement and performance assessments can provide valuable data for making special-education eligibility decisions. Reviews applied research on these assessment approaches and discusses the practical context of treatment validation and decisions about instructional services for students with diverse academic needs.
Elliott, S. N., & Fuchs, L. S. (1997). The Utility of Curriculum-Based Measurement and Performance Assessment as Alternatives to Traditional Intelligence and Achievement Tests. School Psychology Review, 26(2), 224-33.
Holding schools accountable: Is it working?
The theory that measuring performance and coupling it to rewards and sanctions will cause schools and the individuals who work in them to perform at higher levels underpins performance based accountability systems. Such systems are now operating in most states and in thousands of districts, and they represent a significant change from traditional approaches to accountability.
Elmore, R. F., & Fuhrman, S. H. (2001). Holding schools accountable: Is it working?. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(1), 67-72.
Standardized admission tests, college performance, and campus diversity
A disproportionate reliance on SAT scores in college admissions has generated a growing number and volume of complaints. Some applicants, especially members of underrepresented minority groups, believe that the test is culturally biased. Other critics argue that high school GPA and results on SAT subject tests are better than scores on the SAT reasoning test at predicting college success, as measured by grades in college and college graduation.
Espenshade, T. J., & Chung, C. Y. (2010). Standardized admission tests, college performance, and campus diversity. Office of Population Research, Princeton University.
Every Student Succeeds Act
High-quality assessments are essential to effectively educating students, measuring progress, and promoting equity. Done well and thoughtfully, they provide critical information for educators, families, the public, and students themselves and create the basis for improving outcomes for all learners. Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, however, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning, and may drain creative approaches from our classrooms.
Every Student Succeeds Act. (2017). Assessments under Title I, Part A & Title I, Part B: Summary of final regulations
Single‐track year‐round education for improving academic achievement in U.S. K‐12 schools: Results of a meta‐analysis
This systematic review synthesizes the findings from 30 studies thatcompared the performance of students at schools using single‐trackyear‐round calendars to the performance of students at schools usinga traditional calendar.
Fitzpatrick, D., & Burns, J. (2019). Single‐track year‐round education for improving academic achievement in US K‐12 schools: Results of a meta‐analysis. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 15(3), e1053.
Highlights from PISA 2009: Performance of U.S. 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science literacy in an international context.
This report focuses on the performance of U.S. students2 in the major subject area of reading literacy by presenting results from a combined reading literacy scale and three reading literacy subscales: access and retrieve, integrate and interpret, and reflect and evaluate
Fleischman, H. L., Hopstock, P. J., Pelczar, M. P., & Shelley, B. E. (2010). Highlights from PISA 2009: Performance of U.S. 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science literacy in an international context. (NCES 2011-004). Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistics website:http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011004.pdf
The Reliability and Validity of Skills Analysis within Curriculum-Based Measurement.
This assessment of the reliability and validity of skills analysis programs within curriculum-based measurement (CBM), with various groups of handicapped and nonhandicapped youngsters, indicated that the skills analysis programs in spelling and math provided consistent information that related well to the primary graphed CBM scores.
Fuchs, L. S. (1989). The Reliability and Validity of Skills Analysis within Curriculum-Based Measurement. Diagnostique, 14(4), 203-21.
Effects of expert system advice within curriculum-based measurement on teacher planning and student achievement in spelling.
30 special education teachers were assigned randomly to 3 groups: curriculum-based measurement (CBM) with expert system advice (CBM-ES), CBM with no expert system advice (CBM-NES), and control (i.e., no CBM).
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Allinder, R. M. (1991). Effects of expert system advice within curriculum-based measurement on teacher planning and student achievement in spelling. School Psychology Review.
Effects of Expert System Consultation within Curriculum-Based Measurement, Using a Reading Maze Task
This study assessed the effects of expert system instructional consultation within curriculum-based measurement (CBM).
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Ferguson, C. (1992). Effects of expert system consultation within curriculum-based measurement, using a reading maze task. Exceptional children, 58(5), 436-450.
Using computers with curriculum-based monitoring: Effects on teacher efficiency and satisfaction
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of using computer software to store, graph, and analyze student performance data on teacher efficiency and satisfaction with curriculum-based progress-monitoring procedures.
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Hasselbring, T. S. (1987). Using computers with curriculum-based monitoring: Effects on teacher efficiency and satisfaction. Journal of Special Education Technology, 8(4), 14-27.
The role of skills analysis in curriculum-based measurement in math.
Examined the role of skills analysis (SA) in curriculum-based measurement (CBM) for the purpose of developing more effective instructional (mathematics) programs. 30 special education teachers implemented 1 of 3 treatments for 15 wks with a total of 91 mildly and moderately handicapped pupils.
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Stecker, P. M. (1990). The role of skills analysis in curriculum-based measurement in math. School Psychology Review.
Classwide curriculum-based measurement: Helping general educators meet the challenge of student diversity
This study examined the effectiveness of innovative curriculum-based measurement (CBM) classwide decision-making structures within general education mathematics instruction, with and without recommendations for how to incorporate CBM feedback into instructional planning.
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., Phillips, N. B., & Bentz, J. (1994). Classwide curriculum-based measurement: Helping general educators meet the challenge of student diversity. Exceptional Children, 60(6), 518-537.
Technical features of a mathematics concepts and applications curriculum-based measurement system
The purpose of this study was to investigate technical features of a curriculum-based measurement (CBM) system that addresses a concepts and applications mathematics curriculum (i.e., number concepts, counting, applied computation, geometry, measurement, charts, graphs, money, and problem solving).
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., Thompson, A., Roberts, P. H., Kubek, P., & Stecker, P. M. (1994). Technical features of a mathematics concepts and applications curriculum-based measurement system. Diagnostique, 19(4), 23-49.
Comparisons among individual and cooperative performance assessments and other measures of mathematics competence
The purposes of this study were to examine how well 3 measures, representing 3 points on a traditional-alternative mathematics assessment continuum, interrelated and discriminated students achieving above, at, and below grade level and to explore effects of cooperative testing for the most innovative measure (performance assessment).
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Karns, K., Hamlett, C., Katzaroff, M., & Dutka, S. (1998). Comparisons among individual and cooperative performance assessments and other measures of mathematics competence. The Elementary School Journal, 99(1), 23-51.
Conducting curriculum-based measurement with computerized data collection: Effects on efficiency and teacher satisfaction
This study assessed the efficiency of and teacher satisfaction with curriculum-based measurement (CBM) when student performance data are collected by teachers or by computers.
Fuchs, L. S., Hamlett, C. L., Fuchs, D., Stecker, P. M., & Ferguson, C. (1988). Conducting curriculum-based measurement with computerized data collection: Effects on efficiency and teacher satisfaction. Journal of Special Education Technology, 9(2), 73-86.
Effects of curriculum-based measurement and consultation on teacher planning and student achievement in mathematics operations
The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of (a) ongoing, systematic assessment of student growth (i.e., curriculum-based measurement) and (b) expert system instructional consultation on teacher planning and student achievement in the area of mathematics operations.
Fuchs, L. S., Hamlett, D. F. C. L., & Stecker, P. M. (1991). Effects of curriculum-based measurement and consultation on teacher planning and student achievement in mathematics operations. American educational research journal, 28(3), 617-641.
Education secretary’s first task: Curb standardized tests.
Although recent data indicate that the learning losses this fall, compared with the same period last year, have not been as dire as predicted, those results likely mask high numbers of missing kids — children who lack technology for online learning or whose parents are unable to supervise their remote schooling.
Gabor, A. (2020, December 27). Education secretary’s first task: Curb standardized tests. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Reconciling a tradition of testing with a new learning paradigm
The entrenchment of standardized assessment in America's schools reflects its emergence from the dual traditions of democratic school reform and scientific measurement. Within distinct sociohistorical contexts, ambitious testing pioneers persuaded educators and policymakers to embrace the standardized testing movement.
Gallagher, C. J. (2003). Reconciling a tradition of testing with a new learning paradigm. Educational Psychology Review, 15(1), 83-99.
Validity of High-School Grades in Predicting Student Success beyond the Freshman Year: High-School Record vs. Standardized Tests as Indicators of Four-Year College Outcomes
High-school grades are often viewed as an unreliable criterion for college admissions, owing to differences in grading standards across high schools, while standardized tests are seen as methodologically rigorous, providing a more uniform and valid yardstick for assessing student ability and achievement. The present study challenges that conventional view. The study finds that high-school grade point average (HSGPA) is consistently the best predictor not only of freshman grades in college, the outcome indicator most often employed in predictive-validity studies, but of four-year college outcomes as well.
Geiser, S., & Santelices, M. V. (2007). Validity of High-School Grades in Predicting Student Success beyond the Freshman Year: High-School Record vs. Standardized Tests as Indicators of Four-Year College Outcomes. Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE. 6.07. Center for studies in higher education.
It’s official: All states have been excused from statewide testing this year
In one three-week period, a pandemic has completely changed the national landscape on assessment.
Gewertz, C. (2020). It’s official: All states have been excused from statewide testing this year. Education Week.
The academic quality of prospective teachers: The impact of admissions and licensure testing.
This study examined the academic and demographic profile of the pool of prospective teachers and then explored how this profile is affected by teacher testing.
Gitomer, D. H., Latham, A. S., & Ziomek, R. (1999). The academic quality of prospective teachers: The impact of admissions and licensure testing. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RR-03-35.pdf
Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings
This paper provides the first empirical examination of National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) ratings, beginning with a descriptive overview of the ratings and documentation of how they evolved from 2013-2016, both in aggregate and for programs with different characteristics.
Goldhaber, D., & Koedel, C. (2019). Public Accountability and Nudges: The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Responsiveness of Teacher Education Programs to External Ratings. American Educational Research Journal, 0002831218820863.
Forecasting accuracy of slope estimates for reading curriculum-based measurement: Empirical evidence.
Examined the forecasting accuracy of 2 slope estimation procedures (ordinary-least-squares regression and split-middle trend lines) for reading curriculum-based measurement (CBM), a behavioral approach to the assessment of academic skills that emphasizes the direct measurement of academic behaviors.
Good, R. H., & Shinn, M. R. (1990). Forecasting accuracy of slope estimates for reading curriculum-based measurement: Empirical evidence. Behavioral Assessment.
Teacher preparation experiences and early teacher effectiveness
This report provides information about new teachers' preparation experiences and explores
whether particular types of experiences are related to teachers' effectiveness in improving
their students' test scores. Prior research indicates that teaching effectiveness is the largest
in-school factor affecting student achievement.
Goodson, B., Caswell, L., Price, C., Litwok, D., Dynarski, M., Crowe, E., ... & Rice, A. (2019). Teacher Preparation Experiences and Early Teaching Effectiveness. Executive Summary. NCEE 2019-4010. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Increasing Targeting, Flexibility, and Transparency in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help Disadvantages Students
This policy proposal I suggest (1) reforms to ensure that the Title I formula gets enough resources to the neediest areas, and (2) improvements in federal guidance and fiscal compliance outreach efforts so that local districts understand the flexibility they have to spend effectively. These are first-order issues for improving high-poverty schools, but so deeply mired in technical and bureaucratic detail that they have received little public attention in the re-authorization process.
Gordon, N. (2016). Increasing targeting, flexibility, and transparency in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help disadvantaged students. Policy Proposal, 1.
The search for ability: Standardized testing in social perspective
A significant and eye-opening examination of the current state of the testing movement in the
United States, where more than 150 million standardized intelligence, aptitude, and
achievement tests are administered annually by schools, colleges, business and industrial
firms, government agencies, and the military services.
Goslin, D. A. (1963). The search for ability: Standardized testing in social perspective (Vol. 1). Russell Sage Foundation.
Teachers and testing
Discusses the uses and abuses of intelligence testing in our educational systems. Dr. Goslin
examines teachers' opinions and practices with regard to tests and finds considerable
discrepancies between attitude and behavior.
Goslin, D. A. (1967). Teachers and testing. Russell Sage Foundation.
Testing High Stakes Tests: Can We Believe the Results of Accountability Tests?
This study examines whether the results of standardized tests are distorted when rewards and sanctions are attached to them.
Greene, J., Winters, M., & Forster, G. (2004). Testing high-stakes tests: Can we believe the results of accountability tests?. The Teachers College Record, 106(6), 1124-1144.
Why the big standardized test is useless for teachers.
In schools throughout the country, it is testing season--time for students to take the Big Standardized Test (the PARCC, SBA, or your state's alternative). This ritual really blossomed way back in the days of No Child Left Behind, but after all these years, teachers are mostly unexcited about it. There are many problems with the testing regimen, but a big issue for classroom teachers is that the tests do not help the teacher do her job.
Greene, P. (2019, April 24). Why the big standardized test is useless for teachers. Forbes
Schools should scrap the big standardized test this year.
When schools pushed the pandemic pause button last spring, one of the casualties was the annual ritual of taking the Big Standardized Test. There were many reasons to skip the test, but in the end, students simply weren’t in school during the usual testing time
Greene, P. (2020, August 14). Schools should scrap the big standardized test this year. Forbes
Measurable change in student performance: Forgotten standard in teacher preparation?
This paper describe a few promising assessment technologies tat allow us to capture more direct, repeated, and contextually based measures of student learning, and propose an improvement-oriented approach to teaching and learning.
Greenwood, C. R., & Maheady, L. (1997). Measurable change in student performance: Forgotten standard in teacher preparation?. Teacher Education and Special Education, 20(3), 265-275.
Making sense of test-based accountability in education
Test-based accountability systems that attach high stakes to standardized test results have
raised a number of issues on educational assessment and accountability. Do these high-
stakes tests measure student achievement accurately? How can policymakers and
educators attach the right consequences to the results of these tests? And what kinds of
tradeoffs do these testing policies introduce?
Hamilton, L. S., Stecher, B. M., & Klein, S. P. (2002). Making sense of test-based accountability in education. Rand Corporation.
Have states maintained high expectations for student performance?
The every student succeeds act (ESSA), passed into law in 2015, explicitly prohibits the federal government from creating incentives to set national standards. The law represents a major departure from recent federal initiatives, such as Race to the Top, which beginning in 2009 encouraged the adoption of uniform content standards and expectations for performance.
Hamlin, D., & Peterson, P. E. (2018). Have states maintained high expectations for student performance? An analysis of 2017 state proficiency standards. Education Next, 18(4), 42-49.
Constrained job matching: Does teacher job search harm disadvantaged urban schools?
This paper provides direct evidence about the impacts of school job matching on productivity and student achievement.
Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2010). Constrained job matching: Does teacher job search harm disadvantaged urban schools? Working Paper No. 15816. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/papers/w15816.pdf
Teacher training, teacher quality and student achievement
The authors study the effects of various types of education and training on the ability of teachers to promote student achievement.
Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2011). Teacher training, teacher quality and student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 95(7–8), 798-812.
Assessment for Intervention: A Problem-solving Approach
This book provides a complete guide to implementing a wide range of problem-solving assessment methods: functional behavioral assessment, interviews, classroom observations, curriculum-based measurement, rating scales, and cognitive instruments.
Harrison, P. L. (2012). Assessment for intervention: A problem-solving approach. Guilford Press.
Student testing in America’s great city schools: An
Inventory and preliminary analysis
this report aims to provide the public, along with teachers and leaders in the Great City Schools, with objective evidence about the extent of standardized testing in public schools and how these assessments are used.
Hart, R., Casserly, M., Uzzell, R., Palacios, M., Corcoran, A., & Spurgeon, L. (2015). Student Testing in America's Great City Schools: An Inventory and Preliminary Analysis. Council of the Great City Schools.
Student testing in America’s great city schools: An inventory and preliminary analysis
Testing in the nation's schools is among the most debated issues in public education today.
Much of this discussion has centered on how much we are testing students and how we use
test results to evaluate teachers, inform instructional practice, and hold schools and
Hart, R., Casserly, M., Uzzell, R., Palacios, M., Corcoran, A., & Spurgeon, L. (2015). Student Testing in America's Great City Schools: An Inventory and Preliminary Analysis. Council of the Great City Schools.
Hard evidence on soft skills.
This paper summarizes recent evidence on what achievement tests measure; how achievement tests relate to other measures of "cognitive ability" like IQ and grades; the important skills that achievement tests miss or mismeasure, and how much these skills matter in life.
Heckman, J. J., & Kautz, T. (2012). Hard evidence on soft skills. Labour economics, 19(4), 451-464.
High stakes: Testing for tracking, promotion, and graduation
The report considers the appropriate uses and misuses of high stakes tests in making decisions for students. The fundamental question is whether test scores lead to consequences that are educationally beneficial.
Heubert, J. P., & Hauser, R. M. (1998). High stakes: Testing for tracking, promotion, and graduation. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED439151.pdf
The effectiveness of the SAT in predicting success early and late in college: A meta-analysis
This meta-analysis examines issues of reliability and validity of SAT tests and student grades on student performance in college.
Hezlett, S., Kuncel, N., Vey, A., Ones, D., Campbell, J. & Camara, W. (2001). “The effectiveness of the SAT in predictive success early and late in college: A comprehensive meta-analysis.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Measurement in Education, Seattle, WA.
A meta-analysis on the correlation between the implicit association test and explicit self-report measures.
A meta-analysis on the relationship between the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and corresponding explicit self-report measures was conducted.
Hofmann, W., Gawronski, B., Gschwendner, T., Le, H., & Schmitt, M. (2005). A meta-analysis on the correlation between the Implicit Association Test and explicit self-report measures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(10), 1369-1385.
The School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET): A Research Instrument for Assessing School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
The School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET; Sugai, Lewis-Palmer, Todd, & Horner, 2001) was created to provide a rigorous measure of primary prevention practices within school-wide behavior support. In this article, the authors describe the SET and document its psychometric characteristics.
Horner, R. H., Todd, A. W., Lewis-Palmer, T., Irvin, L. K., Sugai, G., & Boland, J. B. (2004). The school-wide evaluation tool (SET) a research instrument for assessing school-wide positive behavior support. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(1), 3-12.
International surveys TIMSS, PISA, PIRLS
In the last 20 years, international surveys assessing learning in reading, mathematics and science have been headline news because they put countries in rank order according to performance. The three most well known surveys are TIMSS, PISA and PIRLS. The survey offer information about international performances for the use of others in order to drive up education standards everywhere. They also emphasise that their aim is to facilitate dissemination of ideas on which features of education systems lead to the best performances.
International surveys TIMSS, PISA, PIRLS. (2017). Cambridge Assessment international Education.
Accountability, incentives and behavior: The impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools
This study evaluated the effects of high stakes testing on the achievement levels of students in Chicago Public Schools. The data suggests that even though scores went up on the high stakes tests scores on “low stakes” achievement tests did not improve. This suggests increases in scores was a function increases in test-specific skills rather than a general improvement in student learning. These findings give credence to the “teaching to the test” criticisms.
Jacob, B. A. (2005). Accountability, incentives and behavior: The impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools. Journal of public Economics. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.401.6599&rep=rep1&type=pdf
ACT Scores Drop as More Take Test
This article show evidence of ACT scores drop on 2016. ACT officials attribute the drop to the increasing percentage of high school seniors who have taken the test. Generally, when a larger share of students take a test - in some cases encouraged by state requirements more than the students necessarily being college ready - scores go down.
Improving School Accountability Measures
The authors highlight an under-appreciated weakness of that approach-he imprecision of school-level test score means -- and propose a method for a better discerning signal from noise in annual school report cards.
Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2001). Improving school accountability measures (No. w8156). National Bureau of Economic Research.
The promise and pitfalls of using imprecise school accountability measures
In recent years, most states have constructed elaborate accountability systems using school-level test scores. We evaluate the implications for school accountability systems. For instance, rewards or sanctions for schools with scores at either extreme primarily affect small schools and provide weak incentives to large ones.
Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2002). The promise and pitfalls of using imprecise school accountability measures. Journal of Economic perspectives, 16(4), 91-114.
Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Combining High-Quality Observations with Student Surveys and Achievement Gains.
This report presents an in-depth discussion of the analytical methods and findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project’s analysis of classroom observations.1 A nontechnical companion report describes implications for policymakers and practitioners.
Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2012). Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Combining High-Quality Observations with Student Surveys and Achievement Gains. Research Paper. MET Project. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kansas Quality Performance Accreditation: A Dynamic, Changing Plan for Living, Learning and Working in an International Community. Revised.
The Kansas State Board of Education's Quality Performance Accreditation system is described. Unlike past accreditation methods, which focused on the facilities or institutional characteristics, Quality Performance Accreditation accredits schools based on student performance.
Kansas State Board of Education (199). Kansas Quality Performance Accreditation. Topeka: Author.
Evidence-Based treatments: Challenges and Priorities for Practice and Research
This article discusses key issues in identifying evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents. Among the issues discussed are obstacles in transporting treatments from research to clinical services, the weak criteria for delineating whether a treatment is evidence based, and barriers to training therapists.
Kazdin, A. E. (2004). Evidence-based treatments: Challenges and priorities for practice and research. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, 13(4), 923-940.
The accidental education benefits of Covid-19
The accidental education benefits of Covid-19.
Kohn, A. (2020, August 18). The accidental education benefits of Covid-19. Education Week.
The testing charade: Pretending to make schools better.
For decades we’ve been studying, experimenting with, and wrangling over different approaches to improving public education, and there’s still little consensus on what works, and what to do. The one thing people seem to agree on, however, is that schools need to be held accountable—we need to know whether what they’re doing is actually working.
Koretz, D. (2017). The testing charade. University of Chicago Press.
The Effects of High-Stakes Testing on Achievement: Preliminary Findings about Generalization across Tests.
This study evaluated the generalization from high stakes tests to other mesures of achievement. The results suggest that there is little generalization suggesting that improvement in high stakes test scores are the result of emphasis placed on the tests and time spent in test preparation rather than actual increase in student learning.
Koretz, D. M. (1991). The Effects of High-Stakes Testing on Achievement: Preliminary Findings about Generalization across Tests. ERIC. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED340730.pdf
Final Report: The perceived effects of the Maryland school performance assessment program
The research reported here investigated the effects of Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) by surveying teachers and principals in two of the three grades in which MSPAP is administered.
Koretz, D., Mitchell, K., Barron, S., & Keith, S. (1996). The perceived effects of the Maryland school performance assessment program. Los Angeles, CA: Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Assessment (University of California at Los Angeles).
Teacher accountability reforms and the supply and quality of new teachers
In recent years, states have sought to increase accountability for public school teachers by implementing a package of reforms centered on high-stakes evaluation systems. We examine the effect of these reforms on the supply and quality of new teachers.
Kraft, M. A., Brunner, E. J., Dougherty, S. M., & Schwegman, D. J. (2020). Teacher accountability reforms and the supply and quality of new teachers. Journal of Public Economics, 188, 104212.
Educational testing and measurement: Classroom application and practice
An up-to-date, practical, reader-friendly resource that will help readers navigate today's seemingly ever-changing and complex world of educational testing, assessment, and measurement. The 11th edition presents a balanced perspective of educational testing and assessment, informed by developments and the ever increasing research base.
Kubiszyn, T., & Borich, G. (1987). Educational testing and measurement. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.
Implementation: Measuring and Explaining the Fidelity of CSR Implementation
By using data collected for the National Longitudinal Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform (NLECSR), this article explores the factors that predict CSR model implementation and the ways that CSR model implementation varies.
Kurki, A., Boyle, A., & Aladjem, D. K. (2006). Implementation: Measuring and explaining the fidelity of CSR implementation. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 11(3-4), 255-277.
Learning as We Go: Principles for Effective Assessment during the COVID-19 Pandemic
We did not ask the panel to weigh in on debates over the role of state exams and accountability systems during a pandemic. However, the panel did discuss how districts and states can balance the goal of informing teachers and parents about individual students with the continued need to track system and school progress. The challenges in the upcoming school year will shine a harsh light on the variation in skills, knowledge, and needs that were always present.
Lake, R., & Olson, L. (2020). Learning as We Go: Principles for Effective Assessment during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Examining the validity of ratings from a classroom observation instrument for use in a district’s teacher evaluation system
The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of teacher evaluation scores that are derived from an observation tool, adapted from Danielson's Framework for Teaching, designed to assess 22 teaching components from four teaching domains.
Lash, A., Tran, L., & Huang, M. (2016). Examining the Validity of Ratings from a Classroom Observation Instrument for Use in a District's Teacher Evaluation System. REL 2016-135. Regional Educational Laboratory West.
Scientific Formative Evaluation: The Role of Individual Learners in Generating and Predicting Successful Educational Outcomes
what does it mean to take a scientific approach to instructional productivity? This chapter hopes to contribute to that discussion by examining the role scientific assessment can play in enhancing educational productivity.
Layng, T. J., Stikeleather, G., & Twyman, J. S. (2006). Scientific formative evaluation: The role of individual learners in generating and predicting successful educational outcomes. The scientific basis of educational productivity, 29-44.
Testing overload in America’s schools
In undertaking this study, two goals were established: (1) to obtain a better understanding of how much time students spend taking tests; and (2) to identify the degree to which the tests are mandated by districts or states.
Lazarín, M. (2014). Testing Overload in America's Schools. Center for American Progress.
Pulling back the curtain: Revealing the cumulative importance of high-performing,
This study examines the relationship between two dominant measures of teacher quality, teacher qualification and teacher effectiveness (measured by value-added modeling), in terms of their influence on students’ short-term academic growth and long-term educational success (measured by bachelor’s degree attainment).
Lee, S. W. (2018). Pulling back the curtain: Revealing the cumulative importance of high-performing, highly qualified teachers on students’ educational outcome. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40(3), 359–381.
Are performance-based accountability systems effective? Evidence from five sectors.
During the past two decades, performance-based accountability systems (PBASs), which link financial or other incentives to measured performance as a means of improving services, have gained popularity among policymakers
Leuschner, K. J. (2010). Are Performance-Based Accountability Systems Effective? Evidence from Five Sectors. Research Brief. RAND Corporation.
The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance
This paper explore the power of behavioral economics to influence the level of effort exerted by students in a low stakes testing environment. This paper find a substantial impact on test scores from incentives when the rewards are delivered immediately. There is suggestive evidence that rewards framed as losses outperform those framed as gains.
Levitt, S. D., List, J. A., Neckermann, S., & Sadoff, S. (2016). The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 8(4), 183-219.
Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Academic Cheating? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
Using a randomized control trial in 11 Chinese primary schools, we studied the effects of pay-for-grades programs on academic cheating. We randomly assigned 82 classrooms into treatment or control conditions, and used a statistical algorithm to determine the occurrence of cheating.
Li, T., & Zhou, Y. (2019). Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Academic Cheating? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment. Frontiers of Education in China, 14(1), 117-137.
No, The Sky is Not Falling: Interpreting the Latest SAT Scores
The College board was recently released SAT scores for the high school graduating class of 2015. Both math and reading scores declined from 2014, continuing a steady downward trend that has been in place for the past decade. Pundits of contrasting political stripes seized on the scores to bolster their political agendas. Petrilli argued that falling SAT scores show that high schools needs more reform. For Burris, the declining scores were evidence of the failure of policies her organization opposes. This articles pointing out that SAT was never meant to measure national achievement and provide detail explanation.
How Well Are American Students Learning? With Sections on the Latest International test Scores, Foreign Exchange Students, and School Suspensions
This Brown Center Report (BCR) on American Education is the sixth and final edition in the third volume and the 16th issue overall. The series began in 2000. As in the past, the report comprises three studies. Also in keeping with tradition, the first section features recent results from state, national, or international assessments; the second section investigates a thematic topic in education, either by collecting new data or by analyzing existing empirical evidence in a novel way; and the third section looks at one or more education policies.
The strange case of the disappearing NAEP
The long term trend test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (LTT NAEP) is the longest running test of student achievement that provides a scientifically valid estimate of what American students have learned.
Loveless, T., (2016, October 17). The strange case of the disappearing NAEP. Brookings Institution
The Adverse Impact of High Stakes Testing on Minority Students: Evidence from 100 Years of Test Data.
This paper is an examination of the impact of high stakes testing on minority students. The outcomes suggest that high stakes testing does not have a positive impact on minority students and in some instances there is negative effects from high stakes testing.
Madaus, G. F., & Clarke, M. (2001). The Adverse Impact of High Stakes Testing on Minority Students: Evidence from 100 Years of Test Data. ERIC. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED450183.pdf
The effectiveness of special education: A time series analysis of reading performance in regular and special education settings
This study presents such an approach where the impact of regular and special education on 11 mildly handicapped children is studied by analyzing their slope of improvement on weekly curriculum-based measures (CBM) reading scores.
Marston, D. (1988). The effectiveness of special education: A time series analysis of reading performance in regular and special education settings. The Journal of Special Education, 21(4), 13-26.
A curriculum-based measurement approach to assessing academic performance: What it is and why do it.
there exists a serious need to examine alternative testing models for making educational decisions. in this chapter, this need is documented from the perspective that the traditional model has failed education in two major ways, from the technical level and from a social policy level. curriculum-based measurement procedures are proposed to redress some of the issues in these domains
Marston, D. B. (1989). A curriculum-based measurement approach to assessing academic performance: What it is and why do it. In M. R. Shinn (Ed.), The Guilford school practitioner series. Curriculum-based measurement: Assessing special children (pp. 18-78). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
Measuring pupil progress: A comparison of standardized achievement tests and curriculum-related measures
In a series of two studies, the relative sensitivity of traditional standardized achievement tests and alternative curriculum-based measures was assessed.
Marston, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Deno, S. L. (1986). Measuring pupil progress: A comparison of standardized achievement tests and curriculum-related measures. Diagnostique, 11(2), 77-90.
NEPC Review: “Student Assessment During COVID-19.”
School closings and the ever-increasing number of deaths provide the backdrop for a proposal by the Center for American Progress (CAP) to deny waivers of the federally mandated administration of standardized tests in spring 2021. Further, the federal government proposes to add to those assessments in ways that CAP argues would make the test results more useful.
Mathis, W. J., Berliner, D. C., & Glass, G. V. NEPC Review: Student Assessment During COVID-19 (Center for American Progress, September 2020).
Is Performance on the SAT Related to College Retention?
This study examines the relationship between scores on the SAT and retention to second year of college using student level data from the freshman class of 2006 at 106 four-year institutions.
Mattern, K. D., & Patterson, B. F. (2009). Is performance on the SAT related to college retention?.
What happened to the Common Core?
The Common Core. Just last year, according to a Gallup poll, most Americans had never heard of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or "Common Core," new guidelines for what kids in grades K–12 should be able to accomplish in reading, writing, and math. Designed to raise student proficiencies so the United States can better compete in a global market, the standards were drafted in 2009 by a group of academics and assessment specialists at the request of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
McArdle, E. (2014). What happened to the Common Core. Harvard Ed. Magazine, 14.
Productivity measurement in the education sector
This note provides a brief review of work to address the challenges of measuring output and productivity in the education sector, with attention also to issues related to the increasing use of technology in the provision of education services.
McGivney, E., & Foda, K. (n.d.). Productivity measurement in the education sector. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/productivity-measurement-in-education.pdf
Forewarning and forearming stereotype-threatened students.
This study investigated communicative strategies for helping female students cope with ‘‘stereotype threat’’. The results demonstrate that priming a positive achieved identity (e.g., private college student) can subdue stereotype threat associated with an ascribed identity (e.g., female).
McGlone, M. S., & Aronson, J. (2007). Forewarning and forearming stereotype-threatened students. Communication Education, 56(2), 119-133.
Missouri Assessment Program: Grade level assessments
Assessment, or testing, fulfills a vital role in today’s educational environment. Assessment results often are a major force in shaping public perceptions about the capabilities of our students and the quality of our schools. As a primary tool for educators and policymakers, assessment is used for many important purposes.
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (2019). Missouri Assessment Program: Grade level assessments.
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (2020). Missouri Assessment Program
Assessments used in Missouri are designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in Missouri’s Learning Standards (MLS). The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, district and state levels.
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (2020). Missouri Assessment Program
A guide to standardized testing: The nature of assessment
The goal of this guide is to provide useful information about standardized testing, or assessment, for practitioners and non-practitioners who care about public schools. It includes the nature of assessment, types of assessments and tests, and definitions.
Mitchell, R. (2006). A guide to standardized testing: The nature of assessment. Center for Public Education.
Classroom Environment Scale Manual
The Classroom Environment Scale (CES) helps create a positive school climate in which more students succeed. The instrument evaluates the effects of course content, teaching methods, teacher personality, class composition and characteristics of the overall classroom environment.
Moors, R.H., & Trickett, E. J. (1979). Classroom Environment Scale Manual (2nd Ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Council.
Analysis of the predictive validity of the SAT and high school grades from 1976 to 1983
This study examines validity data for SAT scores and student grades enrolling classes of 1976 to 1985.
Morgan, R. (1989). “Analysis of the predictive validity of the SAT and high school grades from 1976 to 1983.” College Board Report No. 89-7. New York: College Board.
SAT Scores Take a Dip
This article describe about the drop down of SAT score in 2016.
The measurement unit disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), used in recent years to quantify the burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors on human populations, is grounded on cogent economic and ethical principles and can guide policies toward delivering more cost-effective and equitable health care.
Murray, C. J., & Acharya, A. K. (1997). Understanding DALYs. Journal of health economics, 16(6), 703-730.
Nation’s report card
How did U.S. students perform on the most recent assessments? Select a jurisdiction and a result to see how students performed on the latest NAEP assessments.
National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). (2020) Nation’s report card. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
The Nation's Report Card: Reading Grade 12 National Results
How did U.S students perform on ht most recent assessment?
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). (2011b). The nation's report card: Reading grade 12 national results. Retrieved from http://nationsreportcard.gov/ reading_2009/gr12_national.asp?subtab_id=Tab_3&tab_id=tab2#
An Introduction to NAEP
This non-technical brochure provides introductory information on the development, administration, scoring, and reporting of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The brochure also provides information about the online resources available on the NAEP website.
The nation’s report card: Grade 12 reading and mathematics 2009 national and pilot state results
Twelfth-graders’ performance in reading and mathematics improves since 2005. Nationally representative samples of twelfth-graders from 1,670 public and private schools across the nation participated in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2010b). The nation’s report card: Grade 12 reading and mathematics 2009 national and pilot state results. (NCES 2011-455). Retrieved http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2009/2011455.pdf
Data Explorer for Long-term Trend.
The Data Explorer for the Long-Term Trend assessments provides national mathematics and reading results dating from the 1970s.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2011a). Data explorer for long-term trend. [Data fle]. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/lttdata/
The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2011
Nationally representative samples of 209,000 fourth-graders and 175,200 eighth-graders participated in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2011d). The nation’s report card: mathematics 2011. (NCES 2012-458). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ pdf/main2011/2012458.pdf
Students Meeting State Proficiency Standards and Performing at or above the NAEP Proficient Level: 2009.
Percentages of students meeting state proficiency standards and performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level, by subject, grade, and state: 2009
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2011f). Students meeting state profciency standards and performing at or above the NAEP profcient level: 2009. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/statemapping/2009_naep_state_table.asp
The nation's report card: Writing 2011
In this new national writing assessment sample, 24,100 eighth-graders and 28,100 twelfthgraders engaged with writing tasks and composed their responses on computer. The assessment tasks reflected writing situations common to both academic and workplace settings and asked students to write for several purposes and communicate to different audiences.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The nation's report card: Writing 2011 (NCES 2012-470).
High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation
This book looks at how testing affects critical decisions for American students. The text focuses on how testing is used in schools to make decisions about tracking and placement, promotion and retention, and awarding or withholding high school diplomas. This book examines the controversies that emerge when a test score can open or close gates on a student's educational pathway.
National Research Council. (1999). High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators through High-Stakes Testing.
The paper examines Campbell’s law-the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making the more likely the measure will corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” In education, high stakes testing has resulted in widespread cheating, exclusion from low performing students from testing, encouraging students to drop out, and narrowing the curriculum.
Nichols, S. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2005). The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators through High-Stakes Testing. Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED508483.pdf
The big test: The future of statewide standardized assessments
School reformers and state and federal policymakers turned to standardized testing over the years to get a clearer sense of the return on a national investment in public education that reached $680 billion in 2018-19. They embraced testing to spur school improvement and to ensure the educational needs of traditionally underserved students were being met.
OLSON, L., & JERALD, C. (2020). THE BIG TEST.
PISA 2009 Results: Learning Trends. Changes in Student Performance Since 2000 (Volume V)
This volume of PISA 2009 results looks at the progress countries have made in raising student performance and improving equity in the distribution of learning opportunities.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2010a). PISA 2009 results: Learning trends–Changes in student performance since 2000 (Volume V). Retrieved from https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2009-results-learning-trends_9789264091580-en
PISA 2006 Technical Report
The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) surveys, which take place every three years, have been designed to collect information about 15-year-old students in participating countries.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2006). PISA 2006 technical report. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/42025182.pdf
Testing lacks public support
Student engagement at school and whether students feel hopeful about their future are far better factors to consider when evaluating schools than using standardized test scores, according to the results of the 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.
PDK/Gallup Poll (2015). Testing lacks public support. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(1), 8–10.
Defending standardized testing
The education reform movement of the past two decades has focused on raising academic
standards. Some standards advocates attach a testing mechanism to gauge the extent to
which high standards are actually accomplished, whereas some critics accuse the push for
standards and testing of impeding reform and perpetuating inequality.
Phelps, R. (2005). Defending standardized testing. Psychology Press.
The Standardized Testing Primer provides non-specialists with a thorough overview of this
controversial and complicated topic. It eschews the statistical details of scaling, scoring, and
measurement that are widely available in textbooks and at testing organization Web sites,
and instead describes standardized testing's social and political roles and its practical uses-
who tests, when, where, and why.
Phelps, R. P. (2007). Standardized testing primer (Vol. 21). Peter Lang.
Teaching to the test?
American teachers are feeling enormous pressure these days to raise their students' scores
on high-stakes tests. As a consequence, some teachers are providing classroom instruction
that incorporates, as practice activities, the actual items on the high-stakes tests.
Popham, W. J. (2001). Teaching to the Test?. Educational leadership, 58(6), 16-21.
Trust but verify: The real lessons of Campbell’s Law
Donald Campbell was an American social psychologist and noted experimental social science researcher who did pioneering work on methodology and program evaluation. He has also become—posthumously—an unlikely hero of the anti-testing and accountability movement in the United States.
Porter-Magee, K. (2013, February 26). Trust but verify: The real lessons of Campbell’s Law. Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Standardized testing undermines teaching
Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch was once an early advocate of No Child Left Behind, school vouchers and charter schools. No Child Left Behind required schools to administer yearly state standardized tests. Student progress on those tests was measured to see if the schools met their Adequate Yearly Progress goals. or AYP. Schools missing those goals for several years in a row could be restructured, replaced or shut down.
Ravitch, D. (2011). Standardized testing undermines teaching. National Public Radio.
The Geography of Racial/Ethnic Test Score Gaps
The authors estimate racial/ethnic achievement gaps in several hundred metropolitan areas and several thousand school districts in the United States using the results of roughly 200 million standardized math and English language arts (ELA) tests administered to public school students from 2009 to 2013. They show that the strongest correlates of achievement gaps are local racial/ethnic differences in parental income and educational attainment, local average parental education levels, and patterns of racial/ethnic segregation, consistent with a theoretical model in which family socioeconomic factors affect educational opportunity partly through residential and school segregation patterns.
Reardon, S. F., Kalogrides, D., & Shores, K. (2019). The geography of racial/ethnic test score gaps. American Journal of Sociology, 124(4), 1164-1221.
Race Gap in SAT scores highlight inequality and Hinder Upward Mobility
In this paper, we analyze racial differences in the math section of the general SAT test, using publicly available College Board population data for all of the nearly 1.7 million college-bound seniors in 2015 who took the SAT. The evidence for a stubborn race gap on this test does meanwhile provide a snapshot into the extraordinary magnitude of racial inequality in contemporary American society. Standardized tests are often seen as mechanisms for meritocracy, ensuring fairness in terms of access. But test scores reflect accumulated advantages and disadvantages in each day of life up the one on which the test is taken. Race gaps on the SAT hold up a mirror to racial inequities in society as a whole. Equalizing educational opportunities and human capital acquisition earlier is the only way to ensure fairer outcomes.
Race Gap in SAT Math Score are as big as Ever
This article show the evidence for a race gap on the SAT math score and some big issues at stake including: the value of the SAT itself; the case for broader policies to take into account socioeconomic background in college admissions; the obsession with four-year college degrees; and the danger of college as a “bottleneck” in the American opportunity structure.
State Department of Education Support for Implementation Issues Faced by School Districts during the Curriculum Adoption Process.
This review examined the overlap between state-created curriculum evaluation tools and The Hexagon Tool created by the National Implementation Research Network. The author followed systematic procedures while conducting a web search and visiting each state’s department of education website in search of curriculum evaluation tools.
Rolf, R., R. (2019). State Department of Education Support for Implementation Issues Faced by School Districts during the Curriculum Adoption Process. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/student-research-2019.
High-stakes testing: Another analysis
Amrein and Berliner (2002b) compared National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results in high-stakes states against the national average for NAEP scores. In this analysis, a comparison group was formed from states that did not attach consequences to their state-wide tests.
Rosenshine, B. (2003). High-stakes testing: Another analysis. education policy analysis archives, 11, 24.
Teacher Efficacy and the Effects of Coaching on Student Achievement 1
This research considers relationships between student achievement (knowledge and cognitive skill), teacher efficacy (Gibson & Dembo, 1984), and interactions with assigned coaches (self-report measures) in a sample of 18 grade 7 and 8 history teachers in 36 classes implementing a specific innovation with the help of 6 coaches.
Ross, J. A. (1992). Teacher efficacy and the effects of coaching on student achievement. Canadian Journal of Education, 17(1), 51–65.
LESSONS; Testing Reaches A Fork in the Road
CHILDREN take one of two types of standardized test, one ''norm-referenced,'' the other ''criteria-referenced.'' Although those names have an arcane ring, most parents are familiar with how the exams differ.
Rothstein, R. (2002, May 22). Lessons: Testing reaches a fork in the road. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/22/nyregion/lessons-testing-reaches-a-fork-in-the-road. html
SAT® Percentile Ranks for 2012 College-Bound Seniors: Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing Percentile Ranks by Gender and Ethnic Groups
This table allows you to compare a student’s SAT® scores with the performance of other 2012 college-bound seniors who took the test some time in high school. Please keep in mind that relationships between test scores and other factors are complex and interdependent. Other factors do not directly affect test performance; rather, they are associated with educational experiences both on tests and in schoolwork.
Is it time to kill annual testing
Is it time to kill annual testing? An Education Week article.
Sawchuk, S. (2019). Is it time to kill annual testing. Education Week, 8.
Research news and comment: Performance assessments: Political rhetoric and measurement reality
Part of the president Bush strategy for the transformation of "American Schools" lies in an accountability system that would track progress toward the nation's education goals as well as provide the impetus for reform. Here we focus primarily on issues of accountability and student achievement.
Shavelson, R. J., Baxter, G. P., & Pine, J. (1992). Research news and comment: Performance assessments: Political rhetoric and measurement reality. Educational Researcher, 21(4), 22-27.
Why We Need Better Assessments.
In today's political climate, standardized tests are inadequate and misleading as achievement measures. Educators should employ a variety of measures, improve standardized test content and format, and remove incentives for teaching to the test. Focusing on raising test scores distorts instruction and renders scores less credible. Includes 13 references.
Shepard, L. A. (1989). Why We Need Better Assessments. Educational leadership, 46(7), 4-9.
Best Practices in Using Curriculum-Based Measurement in a Problem-Solving Model
This chapter provides a rationale for why school psychologists and other educators should be interested in the use of CBM, especially within a particular decision-making model, Problem Solving.
Shinn, M. R. (1995). Best practices in curriculum-based measurement and its use in a problem-solving model. Best practices in school psychology III, 547-567.
Curriculum-based Measurement: Assessing Special Children
Curriculum-Based Measurement and Special Services for Children is a concise and convenient guide to CBM that demonstrates why it is a valuable assessment procedure, and how it can be effectively utilized by school professionals.
Shinn, M. R. (Ed.). (1989). Curriculum-based measurement: Assessing special children. Guilford Press.
Advanced Applications of Curriculum-based Measurement
Developed specifically to overcome problems with traditional standardized instruments--and widely used in both general and special education settings throughout the US--curriculum-based measurement (CBM) comprises brief assessment probes of reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics that serve both to quantify student performance and to bolster academic achievement.
Shinn, M. R. (Ed.). (1998). Advanced applications of curriculum-based measurement. Guilford Press.
Getting testy about testing: K–12 parents support canceling standardized testing this spring. That might not be a good idea.
n the before-times, one of the hallmarks of spring for parents, students and teachers was the ramp-up toward federally mandated standardized tests. COVID-19 had something to say about that last school year, and in mid-March, the U.S. Department of Education granted states a blanket exemption from standardized testing.
Silver, D. & Polikoff, M. (2020, November 16). Getting testy about testing: K–12 parents support canceling standardized testing this spring. That might not be a good idea. The 74.
Phenotypic performance profile of children with reading disabilities: A regression-based test of the phonological-core variable-difference model.
Introduces a new analytic strategy for comparing the cognitive profiles of children developing reading skills at different rates: a regression-based logic analogous to the reading-level match design, but without some of the methodological problems of that design.
Stanovich, K. E., & Siegel, L. S. (1994). Phenotypic performance profile of children with reading disabilities: A regression-based test of the phonological-core variable-difference model. Journal of educational psychology, 86(1), 24.
Overview of Formative Assessment
Effective ongoing assessment, referred to in the education literature as formative assessment or progress monitoring, is indispensable in promoting teacher and student success. Feedback through formative assessment is ranked at or near the top of practices known to significantly raise student achievement. For decades, formative assessment has been found to be effective in clinical settings and, more important, in typical classroom settings. Formative assessment produces substantial results at a cost significantly below that of other popular school reform initiatives such as smaller class size, charter schools, accountability, and school vouchers. It also serves as a practical diagnostic tool available to all teachers. A core component of formal and informal assessment procedures, formative assessment allows teachers to quickly determine if individual students are progressing at acceptable rates and provides insight into where and how to modify and adapt lessons, with the goal of making sure that students do not fall behind.
States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2017). Overview of Formative Assessment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. http://www.winginstitute.org/student-formative-assessment.
Summative Assessment Overview
Summative assessment is an appraisal of learning at the end of an instructional unit or at a specific point in time. It compares student knowledge or skills against standards or benchmarks. Summative assessment includes midterm exams, final project, papers, teacher-designed tests, standardized tests, and high-stakes tests.
States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2018). Overview of Summative Assessment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/assessment-summative
Effects of instructional modifications with and without curriculum-based measurement on the mathematics achievement of students with mild disabilities.
This investigation contributed to previous research by separating the effects of simply making instructional changes, not based on student performance data, from the effects of making instructional changes in accordance with CBM data.
Stecker, P. M. (1995). Effects of instructional modifications with and without curriculum-based measurement on the mathematics achievement of students with mild disabilities.
Comparing TIMSS with NAEP and PISA in Mathematics and Science
The purpose of this document is to provide background information that will be useful in interpreting the 2007 results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) by comparing its design, features, framework, and items with those of the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress and another international assessment in which the United States participates, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The report found, because there are differences in the features, frameworks and items of the national and international assessments, direct comparisons among the assessments are not useful. Rather the results from different studies should be thought of as different lenses through which to view and better understand U.S. student performance.
Stephens, M., and Coleman, M. (2007). Comparing TIMSS with NAEP and PISA in Mathematics and Science. U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from
Comparing PIRLS and PISA with NAEP in Reading, Mathematics, and Science
This document provide background information that will be useful in interpreting the results from two key international assessments that are being released in November and December 2007 and in comparing these results with recent findings from the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress in similar subjects. In sum, there appears to be an advantage in capitalizing on the complementary information presented in national and international assessments. NAEP measures in detail the reading, mathematics and science knowledge of U.S. students as a whole, and can also provide trend information for individual states, different geographic regions, and demographic population groups. International assessments like PIRLS and PISA add value by providing a method for comparing our performance in the United States to the performance of students in other nations. However, their differences need to be recognized when interpreting results.
Measuring Thinking Skills Through Classroom Assessment
The classroom assessment procedures o f 36 teachers in grades 2 to 12 were studied in depth to determine the extent to which they measure students” higher order thinking skills in mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts.
Stiggins, RJ., Griswald, M., & Green, K. R. (1988). Measuring Thinking Skills Through Classroom Assessment. Paper presented at the 1988 annual meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education, New Orleans, April.
It looks like the beginning of the end of America’s obsession with student standardized testing
America has been obsessed with student standardized tests for nearly 20 years. Now it looks like the country is at the beginning of the end of our high-stakes testing mania — both for K-12 “accountability” purposes and in college admissions.
Strauss, V. (2020). It looks like the beginning of the end of America’s obsession with student standardized tests. The Washington Post.
Calls are growing for Biden to do what DeVos did: Let states skip annual standardized tests this spring.
There are growing calls from across the political spectrum for the federal government to allow states to skip giving students federally mandated standardized tests in spring 2021 — but the man that President-elect Joe Biden tapped to be education secretary has indicated support for giving them.
Strauss, V. (2020b, December 30). Calls are growing for Biden to do what DeVos did: Let states skip annual standardized tests this spring. The Washington Post.
What you need to know about standardized testing
What you need to know about standardized testing.
Strauss, V. (2021, February 1). What you need to know about standardized testing. The Washington Post.
Validity of IQ-Discrepancy Classifications of Reading Disabilities:A Meta-Analysis
A meta-analysis involving 46 studies addressing the validity of this classification of poor readers revealed substantial overlap between the IQ-discrepant and IQ-consistent poor readers
Stuebing, K. K., Fletcher, J. M., LeDoux, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2002). Validity of IQ-discrepancy classifications of reading disabilities: A meta-analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 39(2), 469-518.
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.
Is high-stakes testing working?
Test-based accountability systems — the use of tests to hold individuals or institutions responsible for performance and to reward achievement — have become the cornerstone of U.S. federal education policy, and the past decade has witnessed a widespread adoption of test-based accountability systems in the U.S. Consider just one material manifestation of this burgeoning trend: test sales have grown from from approximately $260 million annually in 1997 to approximately $700 million today — nearly a threefold increase.
Supowitz, J. (2021) Is high-stakes testing working? University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education.
Fifty years of federal teacher policy: An appraisal
The federal role in developing the teacher workforce has increased markedly in the last
decade, but the history of such involvement dates back fifty years. Relying initially on
policies to recruit and train teachers, the federal role has expanded in recent years to
include new policy initiatives and instruments around the themes of accountability,
incentives, and qualifications, while also continuing the historic emphasis on teacher
recruitment, preparation, and development.
Sykes, G., & Dibner, K. (2009). Fifty Years of Federal Teacher Policy: An Appraisal. Center on Education Policy.
Back-to-school metrics: How to assess conditions for teaching and learning and to measure student progress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has forced school districts across the nation to quickly adapt their approach to teaching and learning, with widespread variation in the response. With a new school year now underway, several states require that schools provide some degree of in-person instruction, while other states have left such decisions up to local education and public health officials.
Therriault, S. B. (2020). Back-to-school metrics: How to assess conditions for teaching and learning and to measure student progress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regional Education Laboratory Program (REL).
Improving Value Measurement in Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
The study design was a declarative exposition of potential fallacies in the theoretical underpinnings of Cost-Effective Analysis (CFA).
Ubel, P. A., Nord, E., Gold, M., Menzel, P., Prades, J. L. P., & Richardson, J. (2000). Improving value measurement in cost-effectiveness analysis. Medical Care, 38(9), 892-901.
How does the rich-poor learning gap vary across countries?
This article show different approach that researcher took to answer questions on social gradient in education between the countries. Comparing some of these results highlights weak service delivery in many developing countries. Even where resources may be similar, social gradients are steep in some, indicating much worse educational outcomes for the poor. And public resources are often extremely poorly converted into learning. The differential ability of schools and school systems to convert resources into learning outcomes remains a major impediment to improving educational outcomes, and indeed life chances, for the poor.
Academic performance of New Jersey’s public school children: Fourth and eighth grade mathematics in 1992
Data from the 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress are used to compare the performance of New Jersey public school children with those from other participating states. The comparisons are made with the raw means scores and after standardizing all state scores to a common (National U.S.) demographic mixture. It is argued that for most plausible questions about the performance of public schools the standardized scores are more useful.
Wainer, H. (1994). Academic Performance of New Jersey's Public Schools. education policy analysis archives, 2, 10.
On the Academic Performance of New Jersey's Public School Children: I. Fourth and Eighth Grade Mathematics in 1992
This report describes the first of a series of researches that will attempt to characterize the performance of New Jersey's public school system.
Wainer, H. (1994). On the Academic Performance of New Jersey's Public School Children: I. Fourth and Eighth Grade Mathematics in 1992. ETS Research Report Series, 1994(1), i-17.
Preparing educators to effectively use student data systems
The use of educational data to make decisions and foster improvement is increasing dramatically. Federal and state accountability mandates have created a strong market for formal achievement testing, both in terms of state achievement tests and benchmarking assessments that help predict performance on these tests.
Wayman, J. C., & Cho, V. (2010). Preparing educators to effectively use student data systems (pp. 105-120). Routledge.
Curriculum-based measurement and two models of follow-up consultation
This investigation focused on the effects of two independent variables; (a) teacher-developed goals and monitoring systems versus a curriculum-based measurement (CBM) goal and monitoring system; and (b) individual expert versus group follow-up consultation.
Wesson, C. L. (1990). Curriculum-based measurement and two models of follow-up consultation. Exceptional Children, 57(3), 246-256.
An efficient technique for establishing reading groups
This article will describe a CBM which is very efficient and provides the teacher with adequate information for grouping and monitoring progress throughout the school year.
Wesson, C. L., Vierthaler, J. M., & Haubrich, P. A. (1989). An efficient technique for establishing reading groups. The Reading Teacher, 42(7), 466-469.
Facilitating the efficiency of on-going curriculum-based measurement
This paper presents four studies that examine the time required to implement direct and frequent curriculum-based measurement (CBM) as well as strategies to improve the efficiency of CBM. Ten rural special education resource teachers were the subjects.
Wesson, C., Fuchs, L., Tindal, E., Mirkin, P., & Deno, S. L. (1986). Facilitating the efficiency of on-going curriculum-based measurement. Teacher Education and Special Education, 9(4), 166-172.
Assessing student performance: Exploring the purpose and limits of testing.
In this book, Grant P. Wiggins clarifies the limits of testing in an assessment system. Beginning with the premise that student assessment should improve performance, not just audit it, Wiggins analyzes some time-honored but morally and intellectually problematic practices in test design, such as the use of secrecy, distracters, scoring on a curve, and formats that allow for no explanation by students of their answers.
Wiggins, G. P. (1993). Assessing student performance: Exploring the purpose and limits of testing. Jossey-Bass.
Defining and measuring academic success.
This paper conducts an analytic literature review to examine the use and operationalization of the term in multiple academic fields
York, T. T., Gibson, C., & Rankin, S. (2015). Defining and measuring academic success. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 20(5), 1–20. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol20/iss1/5/
Comparing Alternatives in the Prediction of College Success
This study investigates the prediction of college success as defined by a student’s college GPA. We predict college GPA mid-way through and at the end of their college careers using high school GPA (HSGPA), college entrance exam scores (SAT/ACT) and an open-ended, performance-based assessment of critical thinking and writing skills (CLA). 3,137 college sophomores and 1,330 college seniors participated in this study.
Zahner, D., Ramsaran, L. M., & Steedle, J. T. (2012). Comparing alternatives in the prediction of college success. In Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, Canada.
Reliability Analysis of The Motivation Assessment Scale
In this study, the reliability of the MAS was reexamined with two independent groups of developmentally disabled individuals who exhibited SIB (N = 55).
Zarcone, J. R., Rodgers, T. A., Iwata, B. A., Rourke, D. A., & Dorsey, M. F. (1991). Reliability analysis of the Motivation Assessment Scale: A failure to replicate. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 12(4), 349-360.
1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam
The number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests has grown to more than 2.5 million students annually. Overall test scores have remained relatively constant despite a 60% increase in the number of students taking AP exams since 2006. In school year 2015–16, 20% of students taking an AP test passed and were eligible for college credit. The College Board also reports a continuing trend in the significant increase in the number of low-income students participating in the program. Unfortunately, this trend may be negatively impacted by changes in funding. The federal grant program subsidizing AP tests for low-income students has been replaced by block grants in the Every Student Succeeds Act. These funds may still be applied to subsidize low-income populations but are not mandated for this purpose as in the past.
Zubrzycki, J. (2017). 1 in 5 Public School Students in the Class of 2016 Passed an AP Exam. Education Week.