The Uses of Testing Data in Urban Elementary Schools: Some Lessons from Chicago
by John B. Diamond & Kristy Cooper — 2007
Standards-based accountability policies that include high-stakes testing are currently the dominant school reform approach in the United States. These policies are designed to raise students’ educational outcomes and reduce race and class achievement gaps by linking students’ test scores to rewards and sanctions for both schools and students. Such policies are based on a straightforward set of assumptions: Educators will improve instruction and students will learn more if (1) policymakers clearly articulate rigorous standards, (2) a curriculum that is aligned with the standards is developed and implemented, (3) regular assessments are taken to determine if students are meeting the standards, and (4) rewards and sanctions for schools and/or students based on these test results are imposed. By establishing a clear set of goals, motivating educators and students through incentives, and providing schools with objective data on student learning outcomes, these policies are designed to create more educational equality.
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