K-12 Accountability and Assessments

Students taking an exam

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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?

States should strive to ensure that assessments are closely aligned with their standards, and communicate linkages between standards and assessments to teachers.

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.