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that the new instruments will lack the curricular or instructional validity that the Constitution requires. This is an important point, of which educators and policymakers must be aware as they design and implement new assessments. Use of the proposed voluntary national test for high-stakes purposes, although not recommended by the U.S. Department of Education, would almost certainly raise questions of this kind, if only because it would take time for states and school districts to align their curricula and their teaching with the requirements of a national test.
Policymakers who wish to use tests for high-stakes purposes must therefore allow enough time for such alignment to occur. The time needed, probably several years, would in practice depend on several factors, including the extent of the initial discrepancy and the availability of resources needed to bring curriculum and instruction into alignment with the new standards.
A second concern, potentially at odds with the first, is that administrators and teachers, wishing to ensure curricular and instructional validity, may teach students the very material that is on the test. "[I]f test exercises are used in instruction, the usefulness of the test as an instrument for measuring student achievement is destroyed … [and if] there is too close a match between the instructional materials and the test, 'the capacity to measure such important constructs as the understanding of a topic may be lost'" (Linn, 1983:127).
According to Linn, "the challenge [is] to convince the courts that knowledge was taught—without precluding the possibility of measuring it" (Linn, 1983:129). The fine line between what is required and what is impermissible—coupled with the existence of incentives to boost student scores by "teaching to the test"—suggests the need for careful policymaking, teacher training, and test security measures.
Requirements of the Improving America's Schools Act
The Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 made major changes in Title I, which serves millions of low-achieving students, chiefly though not entirely at the elementary level. Among the most important modifications are new requirements relating to testing and accountability. "[S]tates will need to develop their own assessments for Title I and ensure that they are aligned with challenging state standards for content and performance linked to state reforms affecting all students" (National Research