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ERIC Number: ED440509
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Apr
Pages: 8
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Out-of-Level Testing: Pros and Cons.
Thurlow, Martha; Elliott, Judy; Ysseldyke, Jim
NCEO Policy Directions, n9 Apr 1999
This paper addresses the controversy about use of "out-of-level" testing, the practice of assessing students (usually those with disabilities) with a lower-level version of a test. The controversy pits unintended instructional consequences against "accurately" measuring performance and avoiding student frustration. Introductory sections explain what out-of-level testing is and offer a brief history of its use. Next, arguments for out-of-level testing are offered, including avoidance of student frustration and emotional trauma; improved accuracy of measurement; and better measurement when the context of the test matches the student's instructional level. Arguments against out-of-level testing stress that assessments must be consistent with the purpose for which they are used and that out-of-level testing reflects low expectations for students and negatively affects their instruction. Next, five assumptions for out-of-level testing and objections to these assumptions are listed. Three considerations in using out-of-level testing for individual students are identified: (1) performance on grade level assessment is likely to be spuriously higher than on out-of-level assessments; (2) instructional issues need to be addressed before students are placed in out-of-level tests; and (3) unintended consequences of out-of-level testing include never reaching grade-level or passing a high stakes test. Finally, questions for decision makers to consider before using out-of-level tests are suggested. (DB)
NCEO Publications Office, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 E. River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($3.50). Tel: 612-624-8561; Fax: 612-624-0879; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials; Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN.