detect the effects of high-quality teaching. Districts, schools, and teachers should use the results of these assessments to revise their practices to help students improve performance.
  • Standardized, norm-referenced tests of content knowledge should be used as indicators of performance and should not be the focus of instruction.
  • Multiple measures should be combined in such a way that enables individuals and schools to demonstrate competency in a variety of ways. Such measures should work together to support the coherence of instruction.

Questions to Ask


    Do schools conduct regular assessments of individual students' performance and use the data to adjust their instructional programs?


    Do assessments include a range of strategies appropriate for their purposes?


    Do the state, district, and schools collect information to determine the instructional sensitivity of their assessments?


    Do multiple measures, including district and state tests, complement one another and enable schools to develop a coherent instructional program?


As states and districts develop assessments, the committee recommends using the following criteria:

Coherence. Assessments are most efficient and effective when various measures complement each other. Assessments should be designed to measure different standards, or to provide different types of information to different constituents. In designing assessments, states or districts should examine the assessments already in place at various levels and determine the needs to be filled.

Transparency. Results from the array of assessments should be reported so that students, teachers, parents, and the general public understand how they were derived and what they mean.

Validity. The inferences from tests are valid when the information from the test can support them. Validity depends on the way a test is used. Inferences that may be valid for one purpose—for example, determining eligibility for a particular program—may not be supportable for another—such as program evaluation. Validity of inferences depends on technical quality; the stability and

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