ERIC Number: ED338673
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Role of Testing in Elementary Schools.
Smith, Mary Lee; And Others
The goal of this study was to understand the role that external testing plays in elementary schools. Focus was on uncovering teachers' beliefs about testing and preparing students to take tests, how these beliefs and values are organized, and what implications they might have on practice. To accomplish this, the day-to-day life in classrooms and how tests and results come into play were studied. The dual case study design provided an interpretive contrast for two schools from the Phoenix (Arizona) area. Schools used the same external tests (the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Basic Skills Test, Continuous Uniform Evaluation System, and Study Skills Test). Although the schools had many similarities, including that of population, one had a program-centered, phonics-based curricular context, and the other had a student-centered, literature-based approach. Observations of 29 classrooms, interviews with 19 teachers, and more extensive observations of 6 focal classrooms made the analysis of beliefs about testing possible and allowed the description of activities related to testing at the two schools, including test preparation and coaching. Study findings are grouped into: (1) local definitions of testing; (2) the role of testing; and (3) the effects of testing. It is held that to define the role of testing as simply psychometric is to oversimplify it, but it is the psychometric weaknesses of tests that make them useful weapons in skirmishes among interest groups. It is argued that no test score ever improves schools. The changes brought about because of test scores are short-term and largely symbolic. Seven exhibits, one figure, and one table are provided. A 70-item list of references is included. Two appendices summarize a survey of Arizona educators and discuss disappointing test scores. (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.
Identifiers: Arizona (Phoenix); External Evaluation; Testing Effects
Note: Pages 54-56 and 216 may not reproduce well.