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ERIC Number: ED491837
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Making Sense of Test Scores. Assessment Brief. Number 10
Bergman, Lincoln
Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning (CAESL) at WestEd
It is challenging for parents and the general public to make sense of the reports on test scores that appear in the mass media. This article offers some things for readers to consider as they bring a critical eye to what is read in the papers. Usually reports on test scores in the media are quite short and focus on one or two aspects of test results. Often, they draw oversimplified conclusions--expressing surprise that students are making gains or (perhaps seen as more newsworthy) registering shock at low scores. Sometimes reports on test scores are sensationalized and exaggerated--especially when they claim to show how poorly students or schools are doing or how "behind" students in the United States are compared to other countries. These claims may or may not be true, but based on the limited information in many news reports, there is often not enough evidence presented to confirm the conclusions. A critical reader is almost always left with important unanswered questions. In the case of test scores, there is frequently a lack of basic information about the kind of test, its development and history, its reliability, fairness, accuracy, and validity. As with all learning, the first steps in achieving a higher level of understanding about assessment start with questions. What was the test designed to measure? What purpose(s) are the test results designed to serve? Was the test based on state standards? Such questions can help parents place their child's results in perspective. (Contains a list of 5 resources.) [This article was produced by the Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning (CAESL) at WestEd.]
Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning (CAESL) at WestEd. c/o WestEd. 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1242. Tel: 877-493-7833; Tel: 415-565-3000; Fax: 415-565-3012; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Community; Parents
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Authoring Institution: N/A