ERIC Number: ED406432
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
The Politics of Assessment: A View from the Political Culture of Arizona.
Smith, Mary Lee
In 1991 Arizona embarked on a program to change schools and make them more accountable for educational achievement. The instrument of reform was an assessment program known as the Arizona Student Assessment Program (ASAP), the most notable feature of which was a performance assessment that was added to an already extensive battery of state-mandated tests. This paper contains a narrative account of the events of the 4-year existence of ASAP and the research the Center for the Study of Evaluation at the University of California, Los Angeles conducted on the role of assessment in educational change. These events are explored, from 1991 until the demise of ASAP in 1995, in the context of theoretical frameworks drawn from policy studies, principally the theory of political culture. The assumption driving the use of assessment to change schools is that teachers will find ways to teach consistent with the assessment adopted. The ASAP was examined through a policy study of the beliefs of policymakers and other stakeholders, a multisite qualitative study of elementary schools in ASAP's first year of operation, and surveys and interviews of educators about ASAP impact. No sense can be made of the death of ASAP on technical or policy grounds. To understand the demise of the ASAP is to understand that such tests primarily serve political functions. The experience of the ASAP illustrates that the dynamics of wins and losses in the political arena are essential features of mandated assessment programs. (Contains 11 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.; California Univ., Los Angeles. Center for the Study of Evaluation.
Identifiers - Location: Arizona