ERIC Number: ED340778
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Sep
Test Misuse: Why Is It So Prevalent?
Linn, Robert L.
Issues in the misuse of standardized test scores are discussed. While information misuse is not a problem unique to testing, it is particularly prevalent. Information can be a source of power, and politically motivated uses of information explain part of the misuse of test scores. Other misuses have historical roots in the exaggerated claims of early testers for their new technology. Popular interpretations often make the mistake of assuming that the reason for a poor performance can be inferred from the score. Test results depend on a host of contextual factors of test use and administration, many of which are not known to the public. The Lake Wobegon effect (the tendency of states and districts to report scores above the national average) is largely the result of the reuse of tests and of changes in the stakes attached to test results for teachers and the school. The higher the stakes, the more likely test preparation is to be extensive. It is not reasonable to expect the public and the media to become testing experts, but it is appropriate for test specialists to become more sensitive to issues of correct reporting and test interpretation. Communicating test results to a wider audience requires more attention than it has generally received. Recently, there was a concerted effort to encourage proper interpretations and discourage improper ones on the part of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which has policy oversight of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); the sponsoring governmental agency, the National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES); and the primary contractor, Educational Testing Service (ETS). (SLD)
Descriptors: Communication Skills, Educational Assessment, Educational History, Educational Technology, Elementary Secondary Education, Evaluation Utilization, Information Dissemination, Political Influences, Scores, Standardized Tests, Student Evaluation, Test Coaching, Test Interpretation, Test Results, Test Use, Testing Problems
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Congress of the U.S., Washington, DC. Office of Technology Assessment.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Contractor report prepared for the Office of Technology Assessment titled "Testing in American Schools: Asking the Right Questions." For related document, see TM 018 025.