application of concepts, as opposed to memorization and skill mastery. In addition, instruction in core subjects typically has been and remains highly stratified. What teachers teach and what students learn vary widely by track, with those in lower tracks receiving far less than a world-class curriculum. If world-class standards were suddenly adopted, student failure would be unacceptably high (Linn, 1998a).
Recommendation: Accountability for educational outcomes should be a shared responsibility of states, school districts, public officials, educators, parents, and students. High standards cannot be established and maintained merely by imposing them on students.
Recommendation: If parents, educators, public officials, and others who share responsibility for educational outcomes are to discharge their responsibility effectively, they should have access to information about the nature and interpretation of tests and test scores. Such information should be made available to the public and should be incorporated into teacher education and into educational programs for principals, administrators, public officials, and others.
Recommendation: A test may appropriately be used to lead curricular reform, but it should not also be used to make high-stakes decisions about individual students until test users can show that the test measures what they have been taught.
The consequences of high-stakes testing for individual students are often posed as a either-or propositions, but this need not be the case. For example, social promotion and simple retention in grade are really only two of many educational strategies available to educators when test scores and other information indicate that students are experiencing serious academic difficulty. Neither social promotion nor retention alone is an effective treatment, and schools can use a number of possible strategies to reduce the need for these either-or choices—for example, by coupling early identification of such students with effective remedial education. Similar observations hold for decisions about tracking and about high school graduation.
Recommendation: Test users should avoid simple either-or options when high-stakes tests and other indicators show that