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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