Students taking an exam

K-12 Accountability & Assessments

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Testing and accountability measures continue to be popular policy prescriptions among decisionmakers. Test results—and the results of non-academic assessments—can provide information that helps identify poorly performing schools, districts, and subgroups. Ultimately, this information could lead to improved practices and more positive outcomes in the classroom.

RAND experts explore the effects of standards-based accountability policies, including testing; evaluate measures of occupational skills and emotional learning; and explore how educator effectiveness is assessed and measured. Through research projects and partnerships, our team asks questions like

  • How can assessments be designed to maximize their usefulness in decisionmaking?
  • How do teachers and principals respond to high-stakes evaluation systems, and how do these systems affect student achievement?
  • How can educators more effectively measure "non-academic" competencies (e.g., social and emotional learning, interpersonal skills, occupational skills) that are increasingly important in the 21st century?
  • Commentary

    The Opt-Out Reckoning

    Criticism of standardized testing is nearly as old as the testing itself. Will the opt-out movement promote meaningful and enduring changes in the educational system, and will these changes benefit the most at-risk and disadvantaged students?

  • Project

    Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness

    Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, seven pilot sites across the U.S. are implementing bold new reforms to improve teaching effectiveness—aiming for higher student achievement, graduation rates, and college attendance.

Sites that were part of the Intensive Partnerships study emphasized using evaluations to inform professional growth, particularly the information gathered through teacher observations.

Research In Action

  • RAND is contributing to national and local efforts to measure non-academic skills and potentially improve assessments and educator evaluation systems.
  • Policymakers use evidence from RAND studies to help recognize the unintended consequences of testing policies.
  • RAND work also helping decisionmakers find ways to improve the use of test results.
  • Our experts are devising ways to help state and local education agencies capture information about student achievement growth, educators/practices, stakeholder feedback, and more.