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Why grade-span testing won't work
Despite a real possibility that, going forward, states will have to test students only once in each grade span (once in elementary, middle, and high school), a new paper from the Brookings Institution argues that annual testing is critical to judging school quality. Using a decade of data, the paper projects how schools would rate based only on average test scores in a solitary grade -- the situation under a grade-span testing regime -- compared with using measures based on growth in student scores from year to year, as with annual testing. As the paper points out, any given average score can reflect a wide range of performances in terms of growth. One proposed alternative to growth-based measures would use a single year of test data, as under a grade-span testing regime, but adjust it based on demographics, so schools serving students that tend to score lower, such as low-income and minority students, would only be compared to schools serving similar students. Yet in addition to providing less accurate information about the causal impact of schools on student learning, demographic adjustments implicitly set lower expectations for some groups of students. The paper concludes that using average test scores from a single year to judge school quality is unacceptable from a fairness and equity perspective. More
Source: Public Education News Blast
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