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Volume 16, Number 2
March/April 2000

Why Current Assessments Don't Measure Up

 

New statewide standards that emphasize accountability for all students have forced educators to look more closely at student data to see who is learning and who is struggling to learn. However, what administrators and teachers are discovering is that mandating high standards does not, by itself, raise achievement. Furthermore, current assessments such as standardized tests are not adequate for measuring those new standards.

Given the skills our students will need to compete in today's economy, many of us can appreciate the need for higher graduation requirements for all students. For too many years, educators and parents have not had high enough expectations for urban and poor rural students, or even for some students in affluent suburbs. Still, there is concern that some students may not be able to reach those new learning standards on the tight timetables set by many states-even where transitional safety nets such as lower passing scores are temporarily in place.

Students come into schools with very different backgrounds and preparation. Some face incredible hardship as they and their families grapple with poverty, illness, or other problems. Some do not learn well within traditional classrooms. Others need alternative approaches, more individual attention, or more time to master a subject.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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