approaches are important but inadequate. The second section, drawing in part on research and practice in fields other than testing, explores several other approaches that, coupled with existing mechanisms, may help ensure that tests with high stakes for students are used properly. These include deliberative forums, a test-monitoring body, better information about the content and purposes of particular tests, and increased government regulation. We also consider the criteria one might use in evaluating alternative approaches. In this discussion, we again maintain our focus on the uses of tests for high-stakes decisions about individual students, recognizing that other uses of tests can also have important indirect consequences on student learning.
The committee does not recommend any specific course of action or combination of strategies. Public officials have long recognized that achieving a policy goal often requires reliance on a variety of complementary strategies. Over the past decade, policy analysts have tried to make the logic of that conventional wisdom explicit and to help policymakers think more systematically about the range of strategies and tools they have available to address any given problem.
Policy design theory posits that public policies consist of goals or problems to be solved; target populations; agents and implementation structures; rules that specify responsibilities, resource levels, and time frames; tools that provide the motivation for targets and agents; and rationales that legitimate and explain the policy logic (Schneider, 1998; Schneider and Ingram, 1997). Once goals are set, tools are chosen to change people's behavior. The motivation for change may come from the allocation of resources, the threat of sanctions, or an appeal to deeply held values.
Rarely does a policy rely on a single strategy. Most embody multiple tools that reinforce each other. Although analysts can categorize generic policy tools (e.g., Schneider and Ingram, 1990, 1993; McDonnell and Elmore, 1987), the choice of an appropriate strategy depends on a given locale's needs, resources, and political culture, as well as its past experience with similar policies. Therefore, we offer no prescription except to argue that ensuring appropriate test use requires multiple strategies. Further research should yield more detailed evidence of their relative strengths and weaknesses in different settings.