consistency of the measurement help determine whether the inferences drawn from it can be supported.

Fairness. A test must produce appropriate inferences for all students; results should not be systematically inaccurate for any identifiable subgroup. In addition, results should not be reported in ways that are unfair to any group of students.

Credibility. Tests and test results must be believable to the constituents of test information. A test that supports valid inferences, that is fair, and that is instructionally sensitive may not provide meaningful information or foster changes in practice if teachers or policy makers do not trust the information they receive from the test.

Utility. Tests will serve their purpose only if users understand the results and can act on them. To this end, tests must be clear in describing student achievement, in suggesting areas for improvement of practice, in determining the progress of schools and school districts, and in informing parents and policy makers about the state of student and school performance.

Practicality. Faced with constraints on time and cost, states and districts should focus their assessment on the highest-priority standards. They should examine existing measures at the state and district levels and implement assessments that complement measures already in place.


The following two examples of assessments come from districts pursuing standards-based reform. Each district has created a mosaic of assessment information that includes frequent assessments of individual student progress at the classroom level; portfolios and grade conferences on student work at the school level; performance assessments at the district level; and standards-referenced tests at the state level. All of these are compiled into reports that show important constituencies what they need to know about student performance.

Community District 2 in New York City began its reform effort by changing the curriculum, rather than the assessments. The district administers a citywide mathematics and reading test, and a state test as well. Each year, the district reviews the results, school by school, with principals and the board, setting specific goals for raising performance, especially among the lowest-performing students. In addition, schools also administer additional assessments that they found are aligned with the curriculum. In that way, the intensive staff development around curriculum, which the district has made its hallmark, and the professional development the district provided on the assessment, produce the same result: teachers with significantly enhanced knowledge and skills about how to teach students toward challenging standards.

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