High Stakes Testing and Assessment

11/1/2004 5:00:00 AM

The battle rages over how best to measure student learning. Do highly consequential tests used for decisions about admissions, promotion, or graduation, and high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and school reform outcomes, result in increased student achievement? Some critics claim that these tests hold students with severe disabilities (i.e., the least capable students) to an unrealistic standard. Others say the tests discriminate against minority and low-income students, who typically receive inadequate teaching and curriculum in the nation's poorest schools. Should support for standards and accountability be equated with increased emphasis on high-stakes tests? For answers to these questions and more information on the issues, visit the following Web sites:

No Child Left Behind

On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left BehindActof 2001, accelerating the push towards standards and accountability. Visit this site for HTML and PDF links to the full text of the law. For more information about the law's accountability requirements, see Title 1 – Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged. The Educational Division of National Governor's Association provides a summary of promising state accountability practices at NCLB: Accountability Promising Practices.

The Nation's Report Card: 2003 Mathematics and Reading Assessment Results

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing U.S. Educational data. At this site you can view national math and reading assessment results for 2003. The good news is that scores for fourth- and eighth-grade math and eighth-grade reading are up. The bad news is that no significant changes have been detected in fourth-grade reading scores since 1992. While you're at the site, check out scores and trends for other subject areas, including civics, geography, science, U.S. history, and writing.

What does the SAT Test?

What do high-profile college-admissions exams like the SAT really measure? Are results linked to IQ (intelligence quotient), reasoning abilities, academic aptitude, college performance, socio-economic status, or test-taking abilities? Case Western Reserve psychology professor Douglas K. Detterman and graduate student C. Frey claim the New SAT (to be unveiled in Spring, 2005) measures general intelligence. Find out more about their controversial position by reading this Boston Globe newspaper article.

State Has Strange Way with words

Tribune staff reporter Tracy Dell'Angela, describes how standardized tests profoundly impact the way students write when they are taught to write essays in a formulaic (five-paragraph and three-topic) way to facilitate automated essay grading by machines. As a result, even students in poorly performing schools can pass the standardized writing test. Visit the Web site to learn whether writing quality and creativity have suffered because young writers have little incentive to exceed the low standards. The Education Week article, “State Tests Influence Instruction, Research Says” shows what happens when teachers shift instruction to focus on what is tested.

Are High-Stakes Tests Punishing Some Students?

Do high stakes tests hurt non-native English-speakers? What about low-income or learning-disabled students? Should single test exit exams be the deciding factor determining promotion or getting a diploma? Some teacher unions, parent organizations and student groups claim single test exit exams discriminate. Other organizations support it. Learn more about the arguments pro and con, find out what's happening in the states of Massachusetts, Indiana and Wisconsin, and follow links to other articles arguing about whether standardized tests should determine who is held back,

EDinformatics (Education for the Information Age): State Testing Resources

What better way to prepare for your own state test than to practice test taking? This site lets you view and practice sample tests from yours and other states, complete with online grading. You'll find links to states that have released past tests and sample exam questions (Adobe Acrobat Reader required). TIMSS (Third International Math and Science Survey) tests are available for grades 3-4, 7-8, and 12 math and science. The U.S. placed 13th in the world on the TIMSS Math test several years ago. Sample ACT test questions are also provided along with links to sample SAT questions, plus several subject area resources, including dozens of interactive activities that make use of java, VRML (virtual reality modeling language) and shockwave to teach physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

Appropriate Use of High-Stakes Testing in Our Nation's Schools

In this position paper published by its Public Affairs department, The American Psychological Association tackles the highly charged question of how student learning and achievement should be measured. As the authors point out, the problem is always with the test itself. Rather, tests have unintended and potentially negative consequences for a wide range of learners. For other position statements on using high stakes testing as instruments of educational policy see AERA's (the American Educational Research Association) High-Stakes Testing in Pre-K--12 Education, the International Reading Association's High-Stakes Assessments in Reading (August 1999) and the NCTM's (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) High-Stakes Testing.

Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Educational Testing Programs

Noted author Richard Phelps, editor of the In Defense of Testing series for EdNews.org, favors objective, external, standardized, high-stakes tests as a measure of what students have learned and how well teachers and schools have performed. Here he argues that benefits of standardized tests far outweigh their relatively meager financial cost. See also Uncensored! Secret Evidence Demonstrating Achievement Gains from Testing with Stakes ( also known as Forsaken but not forgotten: The rich, robust research literature on testing's achievement benefits. For more of the same, see Phelps's Test Bashing Series, a collection of links to chapters in his Kill the Messenger (a publication opposed to standardized test bashing). Phelps claims that antipathy to standardized testing comes from individuals, teachers and administrators concerned with protecting themselves from public scrutiny.

Testing: The Need and Dangers

The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University has published a Civil Rights in Brief position paper on statewide and national tests in schools. Learn more about civil rights concerns and follow the link to High Stakes Testing for information about additional publications on the topic.

Balanced Assessment in Mathematics

From 1993-2003, the Harvard Graduate School of Education developed hundreds of mathematics assessment tasks for grades K-12 and trained teachers how to use these assessments in the classroom. At this site you'll find links to more than 300 math assessment tasks, plus reports on doing balanced mathematics assessment, a performance-scoring tool, and an instrument for implementing the system.

The Case for Authentic Assessment

Grant Wiggins, nationally known researcher and consultant, argues in favor of examining student performance by requiring them to complete tasks demonstrating intellectual capabilities, such as conducting research, writing, revising written work, and oral analysis. Learn more about authentic assessment (i.e., what it is, how to implement it, how it differs from traditional assessment) at the Authentic Assessment Toolbox and at Authentic Assessment in Mathematics, a report of a Summer '94 Authentic Assessment workshop held at Swarthmore College.

Approaches to Authentic Assessment

Sponsored by NCREL (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory), this Web site supports authentic assessment challenging students to demonstrate skills and competencies for real-life situations and real-world applications. NCREL's position paper titled, Critical Issue: Ensuring Equity with Alternative Assessments also makes a strong case for alternative assessment opportunities in situations involving high-stakes testing.

About the Author: Carol S. Holzberg, PhD is an educational technology specialist, computer journalist, private technology consultant and anthropologist, who works as a Technology Coordinator at three schools in Western Massachusetts, writes for several national technology publications and teaches in the School of Education at Capella University. She’s a regular contributor to Technology & Learning. Send comments or queries via email to: carolh@anthro.umass.edu

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...