Making Sense of Test-Based Accountability in Education

Making Sense of Test-Based Accountability in Education

Laura S. Hamilton
Brian M. Stecher
Stephen P. Klein
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1554edu
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  • Book Info
    Making Sense of Test-Based Accountability in Education
    Book Description:

    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? This book responds to the growing emphasis on high-stakes testing and offers recommendations for more-effective test-based accountability systems.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3398-7
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)
    Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher and Stephen P. Klein

    How do we define terms such aslarge-scale,high-stakes testsandtest-based accountability systems?

    Why is test-based accountability so popular?

    Why do policymakers and practitioners need to know more?

    Standardized achievement tests have been used to measure students’ educational progress for nearly a century, but the prevalence of those tests, and the number of purposes they are asked to serve, have grown substantially during the past two decades. Today, large-scale achievement testing is the linchpin of most state and national reform efforts and dozens of states have adopted formal accountability systems based on achievement test scores. Universal testing in reading...

  9. Chapter Two TESTS AND THEIR USE IN TEST-BASED ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEMS
    (pp. 13-50)
    Laura S. Hamilton and Daniel M. Koretz

    What is the history of testing and accountability in America?

    How do today’s tests and accountability systems differ from those in the past?

    What are the features of the tests that vary from state to state?

    Although current test-based accountability systems are often presented as novel and innovative, they have roots in the policies of past decades, and they represent a mix of new and long-standing approaches. Some of the most pressing issues raised by the current systems arose in earlier programs as well.

    In this chapter, we provide a short history of large-scale testing and test-based accountability.¹ We then...

  10. Chapter Three TECHNICAL CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING TESTS
    (pp. 51-78)
    Vi-Nhuan Le and Stephen P. Klein

    How do we know if a test supports content standards?

    How do we know if test scores reflect students’ actual learning?

    How can we measure the fairness of the tests and the reliability of test scores?

    The previous chapter discussed features of test-based accountability systems. The focus of this chapter is on the technical quality of the tests themselves. In this chapter, we discuss the three main technical criteria by which the technical quality of tests should be evaluated: reliability, validity, and fairness. We begin by defining reliability. We then discuss certain factors that affect reliability, ways to quantify reliability,...

  11. Chapter Four CONSEQUENCES OF LARGE-SCALE, HIGH-STAKES TESTING ON SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM PRACTICE
    (pp. 79-100)
    Brian M. Stecher

    Why should we care about the effects of testing?

    What research has been done about the effects of high-stakes testing?

    What are the positive and negative effects of testing on classrooms? On schools?

    This chapter examines the consequences of high-stakes testing on the educational system. We focus on the effects of high-stakes tests on students, teachers, and principals because the evidence of these effects is comparatively strong. High-stakes testing may also affect parents (e.g., their attitudes toward education, their engagement with schools, and their direct participation in their child’s learning) as well as policymakers (their beliefs about system performance, their...

  12. Chapter Five ACCOUNTABILITY AS SEEN THROUGH A POLITICAL LENS
    (pp. 101-120)
    Lorraine M. McDonnell

    What political constituencies have an interest in the testing debate?

    How does public opinion influence elected officials?

    How are the actions of some policymakers at odds with standards of good testing practice?

    To a large extent, recent federal and state educational assessment policies represent a political solution to an educational problem. Not only has the impetus for the movement toward large-scale achievement testing and test-based accountability systems come from politicians, the business community, and others outside the education establishment, but the definition of the problem to which they are the solution has a decidedly political cast to it. At the...

  13. Chapter Six IMPROVING TEST-BASED ACCOUNTABILITY
    (pp. 121-144)
    Laura S. Hamilton and Brian M. Stecher

    What do we know about test-based accountability systems?

    What are the steps we can take to improve the technical quality of tests?

    How can we ensure that teachers’ classroom practices support the goals of assessment programs?

    How can we integrate the perspectives of both politicians and educators?

    Test-based accountability has been a potent educational policy, and research suggests that it has had a large impact on school and classroom practice in just a short period of time. For example, the implementation of high-stakes testing has almost always led to increases in test scores. If these increases reflect improved learning, they...

  14. RESOURCES
    (pp. 145-148)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 149-168)
  16. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 169-170)