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ERIC Number: ED565742
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Feb
Pages: 122
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments
Doorey, Nancy; Polikoff, Morgan
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Approximately one-third of American freshmen at two-year and four-year colleges require remedial coursework and over 40 percent of employers rate new hires with a high school diploma as "deficient" in their overall preparation for entry-level jobs. Yet, over the past decade, as these students marched through America's public education system, officials repeatedly told them, and their parents, that they were on track for success. They passed their courses, got good grades, and aced state annual tests. To put it plainly, it was all a lie. Imagine being told year after year that you're doing just fine--only to find out when you apply for college or a job that you're simply not as prepared as you need to be. Thankfully, states have taken courageous steps to address this preparedness gap. Over the past five years, every state has upgraded its K-12 academic standards to align with the demands of college and career readiness (CCR), either by adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or working with their own higher education and career training providers to strengthen or develop standards. New assessments intended to align to these more-rigorous standards made their debut in the past year or two, and, as was widely expected (and, indeed, inevitable), student proficiency rates are lower than on previous tests--often significantly lower. Of course, test scores that more accurately predict students' readiness for entry-level coursework or training are not enough. The content of state assessments, too, is an important predictor of the impact of those tests on what is taught and learned. In this study, the authors evaluate the quality of four standardized assessments--three new, multi-state assessments and a well-regarded existing state assessment--to determine whether they meet new criteria developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) for test quality. These new criteria ask that evaluators take a deep look at whether the assessments target and reliably measure the essential skills and knowledge needed at each grade level to achieve college and career readiness by the end of high school. The authors evaluate English language arts/literacy and mathematics assessments for grades 5 and 8 for this quartet of testing programs: (1) ACT Aspire; (2) The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC); (3) The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced); and (4) The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS, 2014). Seven appendices are included: (1) Depth of Knowledge (DOK) of the Four Assessment Programs as Compared to the CCSS and Other Policy-Relevant Assessments; (2) Key Terminology; (3) The Methodology as Written; (4) Author Biographies; (5) Review Panelist Biographies; (6) Full ELA/Literacy and Math Ratings and Summary Statements (Grades 5 and 8); an (7) Testing Program Responses to Study and Descriptions of Test Changes for 2015-2016. [Foreword by Amber M. Northern and Michael J. Petrilli.]
Thomas B. Fordham Institute. 1701 K Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-223-5452; Fax: 202-223-9226; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 5; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Louis Calder Foundation; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Lumina Foundation; Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Institute