EFFECTS OF MANDATED TESTING ON INSTRUCTION

LYNN HANCOCK

JEREMY KILPATRICK

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

The past two decades have seen a striking increase in the use of testing in the United States by school officials and legislators attempting to determine whether funds invested in schools are yielding an educated citizenry. Testing is viewed as the major instrument for holding schools accountable for the resources they have received. It has become a vital tool of state and federal education policy. Governments and local school authorities have mandated the administration of tests, usually at the end of major phases of schooling but sometimes at the end of each grade, in the belief that test scores provide critical information on how well students are learning and how effective instruction has been.

Testing of all types seems to be on the rise in the United States, but the increase in mandated testing has been especially dramatic. In 1990, 46 states had mandated testing programs as compared with 29 in 1980. As the school population increased 15 percent from 1960 to 1989, revenues from the sales of standardized tests increased 10 times as fast.1 More than a third of the elementary school teachers in a recent survey2 saw the emphasis on standardized testing in U.S. education as strong and getting stronger. Somewhat fewer saw the same increasing emphasis in their school district, and even fewer saw it in their own school. Almost no



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