Achievement Scores and Educational Objectives

by Robert Klitgaard

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

How should achievement scores be used to evaluate public schools? Most large-scale studies have relied on school or program averages alone, overlooking many important educational objectives. Theoretically, objective functions for achievement scores should be constructed; practically, they cannot be. However, a number of easily computable statistics of the intraschool distribution of both uncontrolled and residual scores can be used that have intuitive links to educational objectives like achievement relative to student backgrounds, equality, mobility, the equalizing ability of the school, success with exceptional children, the provision of specific levels of skills, and others. Several of the proposed measures are explored empirically, and nonschool factors do not explain school variation along these measures well. There is also evidence that some schools consistently equalize student scores more than background factors or chance would predict. Recommendations are given for the practical application of the measures in government accountability systems.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.