• How accountability interacts with assessments

  • How teachers conduct and use classroom assessment

  • How states and districts use assessments for accountability

  • How assessments influence postsecondary education choices

ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Accountability

The pervasiveness, political importance, and potential influence of assessment on student learning make it a potent tool for change. Compared to other vehicles for change, such as long-term professional development, assessment is an attractive strategy to policy makers, since tests are relatively inexpensive to construct and administer. Moreover, assessment can be externally mandated and implemented rapidly, yielding visible results (Linn, 2000).

As the standards movement extended beyond standards designed by the educational community for use by educators to a vehicle for motivating school change, states began designing assessments to measure student learning against those standards. Other policies also contributed to the increased role of assessment. For example, Title I of Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (PL 103–382 108) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (PL 105–17 111) require that states develop high-quality assessments to measure performance on high standards for all students, including those with disabilities. In addition, states participating in the second Education Summit in Palisades, New York, in March 1996 agreed to establish clear academic standards for student achievement in core subject areas and to assist schools in accurately measuring student progress toward reaching these standards (National Education Goals Panel, 1996).

Assessments provide a systematic way to inform students,



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