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ERIC Number: ED518135
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
The High-Stakes Effects of "Low-Stakes" Testing
Papay, John P.; Murnane, Richard J.; Willett, John B.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
In this paper, the authors examine how information that students receive about their academic performance affects their decisions to enroll in post-secondary education. In particular, they look at one specific piece of data--student performance on the state standardized mathematics test in grades 8 and 10 in Massachusetts. One key feature of such test-based accountability systems is that every student receives not only a test score but also a label based on their performance (for example, Failing, Needs Improvement, Proficient, or Advanced). The state assigns the labels by determining three cut-points that divide the fine-grained test score distribution into four regions. Given that understanding detailed test information can be a costly task, it makes sense to have a parsimonious summary that is easy for parents and students to interpret. To summarize, their specific research questions are: (1) Does the performance label information that urban, low-income students receive on the Massachusetts state mathematics test affect their post-secondary plans and their college enrollment decisions?; (2) Are the college enrollment decisions of students who did not initially plan to attend a four-year college more sensitive to new performance information than the decisions of students with college-going plans?; and (3) Does prior test performance shed light on the relative importance of encouragement and discouragement effects for particular students? (Contains 4 tables.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 10; Grade 8; High Schools; Higher Education; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System