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Consequential Validity and the Transformation of Tests from Measurement Tools to Policy Tools


by Kevin G. Welner — 2013

Background/Context: Recent U.S. policy has brought a shift in assessment use, from measurement tools to policy levers. In particular, testing has become a core part of teacher evaluation policies in many states, with test results becoming akin to a job evaluation.

Purpose: To explore the notion of consequential validity in assessment use and examine the implications of using an assessment more as a policy tool than a measurement tool.

Research Design: This is an essay concerning how assessment measures are used in educational policy contexts.

Conclusions: Meaning is created by use, and the intense push for test-based accountability policies in the U.S. has fundamentally changed the nature of test use. The core meaning of tests and testing has accordingly been qualitatively changed. Attention to consequential validity counsels against use of tests to drive policy unless, and until, the results that process itself have been validated for their furtherance of recognized goals.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 9, 2013, p. 1-6
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17115, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 1:00:07 PM

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About the Author
  • Kevin Welner
    University of Colorado - Boulder
    E-mail Author
    KEVIN WELNER is a professor of education and director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Education. His work examines the use of research in policymaking, the intersection between education rights litigation and educational opportunity scholarship, and the school change process associated with equity-focused reform efforts. He has authored or edited eight books and 80 articles and book chapters. Welner has received the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award in 2006 and has been designated an AERA Fellow. He earned his B.A. in Biological Sciences from UCSB and his J.D. and Ph.D. from UCLA.
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