ERIC Number: ED338677
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
Looking behind the "Average": How Are States Reporting Test Results.
This paper contends that, apparently, the patterns of above-norm performance that J. Cannell (1987) reported exist, although the extremity of his "Lake Wobegon" effect is perhaps overstated. The use of outdated test norms and other practices has been identified as a partial explanation for the reporting of "above-average" scores. Two questions arise: how can the use of commercial norm-referenced tests be changed to lead to more accurate reporting?"; and (2) which standards for reporting test results are reasonable? Recommendations are made for improving test use, which center on the following areas: (1) improving documentation; (2) more frequent norming; and (3) use of multiple test forms. It is important to put the reporting of results in context within states, districts, and schools. The problem has generally been that results are reported too simplistically. Three types of data are generally necessary to contextualize test results: longitudinal trends, performance distributions, and subgroup comparisons (by race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status, for example). To report achievement test data more comprehensively, better yardsticks and better use of them are needed. An eight-item list of references is included. An appendix contains a sample performance distribution graph. (SLD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
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: Lake Wobegon Phenomenon