tional Research Association, American Psychological Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, 1985; in press) should be followed. These standards include guidelines for validity, reliability, fairness, test development, and protection of test takers' rights.

Using the same test for multiple purposes poses problems. The broad, public-information-type of test will provide too little information too infrequently to help teachers redesign their instructional practices to address the particular needs of their students. The instructional-guidance test will provide too little information about the range of student knowledge and skills in a subject area—or may be misinterpreted to suggest more than it actually offers. At the same time, instructional guidance tests are often scored by teachers; using such tests for accountability purposes may provide an incentive for teachers to report the best possible results, throwing into question the accuracy and value of the information they provide.

Yet undue attention on the accountability measure encourages schools to focus all their efforts on raising the performance on that measure, which may not be equivalent to improving performance generally. In some cases, schools resort to inappropriate practices, such as teaching specific test items, or items like test items, in order to raise scores. These practices do little to improve student learning (Shepard, 1989; Koretz et al., 1991).

However, preliminary evidence suggests that careful attention to instructional guidance assessments appears to contribute to higher performance. Principals who testified before the committee described the way their schools used regular and frequent teacher-made assessments to monitor the progress of every student and to gauge the effectiveness of the instructional program. And a study of successful high-poverty schools in Texas found that such schools administered frequent assessments and used the data in their instructional planning (Ragland et al., 1999). These schools used assessment data from classroom assessments, district tests, and state tests to develop a well-rounded picture of student performance in order to make decisions about instructional strategies.


  • Teachers should administer assessments frequently and regularly in classrooms for the purpose of monitoring individual students' performance and adapting instruction to improve their performance.
  • Assessment should involve a range of strategies appropriate for inferences relevant to individual students, classrooms, schools, districts, and states.
  • The overwhelming majority of standards-based assessments should be sensitive to effective instruction—that is, they should

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