In this Policy Memo, Kevin Welner and William Mathis discuss the broad research consensus that standardized tests are ineffective and even counterproductive when used to drive educational reform. Yet the debates in Washington over the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act largely ignore the harm and misdirection of these test-focused reforms. As a result, the proposals now on the table simply gild a demonstrably ineffective strategy, while crowding out policies with proven effectiveness. Deep-rooted trends of ever-increasing social and educational needs, as well as fewer or stagnant resources, will inevitably lead to larger opportunity gaps and achievement gaps. Testing will document this, but it will do nothing to change it. Instead, the gaps will only close with sustained investment and improvement based on proven strategies that directly increase children’s opportunities to learn.
Welner, K. G., & Mathis, W. J. (2015). Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Time to Move Beyond Test-Focused Policies. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from https://scholar.colorado.edu/nepc/114
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