ERIC Number: ED301325
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
You Get What You Measure, You Get What You Don't: Higher Standards, Higher Test Scores, More Retention in Grade. Report No. 29.
Gottfredson, Gary D.
This study examined one urbanized Southeastern county school district's experience in attempting to implement an educational reform program that called, among other things, for higher standards. By focusing on standardized norm-based and criterion-referenced educational tests administered to students according to grade level, this school system had: (1) been misled about the magnitude of educational improvements produced by its emphasis on high standards; (2) increased grade retention; and therefore (3) plausibly increased the risk of the school dropout and other varieties of adolescent problem behavior among the community's youths. Retention was especially extensive in grades 9 (33 percent, two-thirds of students promoted), 1 (25 percent), 10 (23 percent), and 7 (22 percent). The percentage of students still in school who were of ninth-grade age who were actually in ninth grade or a higher grade was only 47. Because grade retention is a very potent predictor of dropout, high rates of dropout are to be expected in this district when students age beyond the compulsory school attendance age. The study also shows that precisely what one measures when holding educational institutions to high standards may determine what the institutions produce, and that what one leaves unmeasured may open the door for undesired outcomes of a reform until these outcomes become painfully obvious. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools, Baltimore, MD.