The practice of measuring student progress and teacher quality predates the No Child Left Behind Act. But amid the debates and media coverage spurred by the 2001 law, NCLB is often the central focus in discussions about accountability and testing.
To maintain a clear perspective of all the issues surrounding testing, use the resources in this Knowledge Center. The articles, links, and success stories will keep you in touch with NCLB and its effect on instruction as well as state or district-mandated practices and trends in classroom assessment.
One of the four pillars of NCLB is "Stronger Accountability for Results." As part of the accountability requirement, schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress are warned that they need to show improvement or the government might demand "dramatic changes" in how the school operates. Best practices dictate that, to avoid a downward trend, school leaders should routinely assess students through ongoing exams, portfolios, and/or observation. A variety of nonprofit and for-profit companies offer assessment tools to help educators monitor student performance. The key to success, however, is being able to act on the data gathered through assessment.
Of course, standardized tests are the most common tools used to measure individual student performance. And the student body's overall test scores determine whether that school is making adequately yearly progress. Tests are also used to judge teacher and principal success.
The weight assigned to high-stakes tests has fueled widespread criticism of the current "testing culture," which is said to degrade instruction by forcing educators to teach to the test or spend too much time on test prep. It is also blamed for high stress levels among students and educators.
The controversy will continue. But as all sides debate the issues, educators can not lose sight of the fact that tests are not an end: they are only an instrument for continually improving instruction. Your work begins once the tests are scored and the numbers are in. Using assessment data, administrators can make informed decisions on where to allocate resource to better support areas in which students are underperforming. Ultimately, the goal is for tests to help ensure that all students are receiving appropriate educational opportunities.
The Future of Data-Driven Decision Making
Find answers to specific questions about D3M and read case studies from The Consortium for School Networking to help you implement or improve your D3M process.
Timely Topics: Assessment
Share these printables, class strategies, and professional tips to help teachers prepare for annual standardized tests.
Teacher to Teacher Advice on Standardized Testing
Classroom teachers share their ideas, strategies, and opinions about testing and accountability.
Best Practices: Reading Assessment and Intervention
How can you ensure students' reading skills are on track? These tips, video demonstrations, and proven strategies show how teachers can accomplish those goals through ongoing assessment.
Spotlight Administrator: A No Excuses Leader
When the results of the first Colorado State Assessment Test showed that her school district was failing its children, Superintendent Joyce Bales took drastic measures -- and turned the schools around.
Managing Test Anxiety
A survey of more than 8,000 elementary-school teachers revealed the truth about the amount of time spent on test prep and the levels of testing anxiety experienced by teachers and students.
Effective Intervention: Targeting Instruction
See how a baseline test, such as an oral fluency assessment or test scores you already have, can help suggest further assessments and target instruction.