Studies: Current testing may not adequately assess student abilities

22 Nov

Moi wrote about testing in More are questioning the value of one-size-fits-all testing:

Joy Resmovits has an excellent post at Huffington Post. In Standardized Tests’ Measures of Student Performance Vary Widely: Study Resmovits reports:

The report, written by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, found that the definition of proficiency on standardized tests varies widely among states, making it difficult to assess and compare student performance. The report looked at states’ standards on exams and found that some states set much higher bars for students proficiency in particular subjects.

The term “proficiency” is key because the federal No Child Left Behind law mandates that 100 percent of students must be “proficient” under state standards by 2014 — a goal that has been universally described as impossible to reach….

They found many states deemed students “proficient” by their own standards, but those same students would have been ranked as only “basic” — defined as “partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade” — under NAEP.

The implication is that students of similar academic skills but residing in different states are being evaluated against different standards for proficiency in reading and mathematics,” the report concludes….

Here is the report citation:

Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Variation and Change in State Standards for Reading and Mathematics, 2005-2009

August 10, 2011

Author: Victor Bandeira de Mello

PDF Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing. (1959K PDF)

W.M. Chambers cautioned about testing in a 1964 Journal of General Education article, Testing And Its Relationship To Educational Objectives. He questioned whether testing supported the objectives of education rather than directing the objectives.

Here is the complete citation:

Penn State University Press Testing And Its Relationship To Educational Objectives

W. M. Chambers

The Journal of General Education
Vol. 16, No. 3 (October 1964), pp. 246-249
(article consists of 4 pages)

Published by:

Stable URL:

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Today’s Tests Seen as Bar to Better Assessment:

The use of testing in school accountability systems may hamstring the development of tests that can actually transform teaching and learning, experts from a national assessment commission warn.

Members of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, speaking at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Education here Nov. 1-3, said that technological innovations may soon allow much more in-depth data collection on students, but that current testing policy calls for the same test to fill too many different and often contradictory roles.

The nation’s drive to develop standards-based accountability for schools has led to tests that, “with only few exceptions, systematically overrepresent basic skills and knowledge and omit the complex knowledge and reasoning we are seeking for college and career readiness,” the commission writes in one of several interim reportsRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader discussed at the Academy of Education meeting.

“We strongly believe that assessment is a primary component of education, … [part of] the trifecta of teaching, learning, and testing,” said Edmund W. Gordon, the chairman of the commission and a professor emeritus of psychology at Yale University and Teachers College, Columbia University.

The two-year study group launched in 2011 with initial funding from the Princeton, N. J.-based Educational Testing Service and a membership that reads like a who’s who of education research and policy. Its 32 members include: author and education historian Diane Ravitch of New York University, former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise of the Washington-based Alliance for Excellent Education, and cognitive psychologist Lauren Resnick of the University of Pittsburgh, among others.

The panel is developing recommendations for both research on new assessments—for the Common Core State Standards and others—and policy for educators on how to use tests appropriately. The final recommendations, expected at the end of the year, will be based on two dozen studies and analyses from experts in testing on issues of methods, student privacy, and other topics….

Related Stories

There are education scholars on all sides of the testing issue.

Moi wrote in What, if anything, do education tests mean?

Every population of kids is different and they arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Schools and teachers must be accountable, but there should be various measures of judging teacher effectiveness for a particular population of children. Perhaps, more time and effort should be spent in developing a strong principal corps and giving principals the training and assistance in evaluation and mentoring techniques. There should be evaluation measures which look at where children are on the learning continuum and design a program to address that child’s needs.     

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