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graduation of individual students. The committee takes no position on whether the voluntary national tests are practical or appropriate for their primary stated purposes.
The committee sees a strong need for better evidence on the intended benefits and unintended negative consequences of using high-stakes tests to make decisions about individuals. A key question is whether the consequences of a particular test use are educationally beneficial for students—for example, by increasing academic achievement or reducing dropout rates. It is also important to develop statistical reporting systems of key indicators that will track both intended effects (such as higher test scores) and other effects (such as changes in dropout or special education referral rates). Indicator systems could include measures such as retention rates, special education identification rates, rates of exclusion from assessment programs, number and type of accommodations, high school completion credentials, dropout rates, and indicators of access to high-quality curriculum and instruction.
Promoting Appropriate Test Use
At present, professional norms and legal action (through administrative enforcement or litigation) are the principal mechanisms available to enforce appropriate test use. These mechanisms are inadequate. Compliance with provisions of the Joint Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education is largely voluntary, and enforcement is often weak. Legal action is typically adversarial, time-consuming, and expensive, and applicable law can vary by jurisdiction, making enforcement uneven.
New methods, practices, and safeguards could take any of several forms, but in general they would appear at various points on a continuum between professional norms and legal enforcement, some less coercive, some more so. Deliberative forums, an independent oversight body, labeling, and federal regulation represent a range of possible options that could supplement professional standards and litigation as means of promoting and enforcing appropriate test use.
The committee is not recommending adoption of any particular strategy or combination of strategies, nor does it suggest that these four approaches are the only possibilities. We do think, however, that ensuring proper test use will require multiple strategies. Given the inadequacy of current methods, practices, and safeguards, there should be further research