and localities would provide a rich “infrastructure” to support standards-based mathematics, science, and technology teaching.

Assessment and Accountability

As the standards movement has gained strength across the United States, assessment and accountability, which are two distinct but related concepts, have become linked as a way to realize the standards, and as such constitute a third channel through which reform might flow. Assessments of various kinds provide systematic means of informing students, teachers, parents, the public, and policy makers about student performance. Accountability mechanisms linked to some or all of these assessments provide incentives to change behavior, by using information from assessments to make consequential decisions about students, teachers, schools, or districts. Thus, consideration of assessment involves a careful study of how assessment interacts with accountability; how teachers conduct and use classroom assessment; how states and districts use assessment for accountability; and how assessment influences choices in postsecondary education.

Assessment practices are vital components of nationally developed standards, specifying expectations for student knowledge and performance. The development and use of assessments to support instruction, to drive educational improvement, and to support accountability are indicators of possible influences attributable to nationally developed standards. If nationally developed standards are influencing assessment policies and practices, assessments would be aligned with learning outcomes embodied in the standards. Accountability policies would support schools and teachers by providing professional development opportunities, instructional materials, and appropriate resources to enhance their efforts to raise performance levels of their students.


Decision-making within the education system is, in large part, a

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