Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 3 MB

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

The federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates a test-based accountability system involving four major elements: goals, performance measures (tests), targets for performance, and consequences for schools success or failure in meeting the targets. Most large-scale tests assess only a limited number of desired outcomes. However, classroom-based tests can usefully complement large-scale tests as instruments to promote educational change and can contribute to greater inferences about student knowledge and skills. Large-scale testing has been shown to have both beneficial and adverse effects on instructional practice, schools, teachers, and students. The author offers general guidelines for improving large-scale test design, improving accountability system design, and incorporating classroom-based assessment into large-scale testing and accountability systems. She cautions that even the most carefully designed accountability system is bound to produce some unintended and perhaps undesirable consequences. It will be important to continue to gather evidence from large-scale studies and the experience of those affected by test-based accountability to inform efforts to improve the system.

Originally published in: Review of Research in Education, v. 27, 2003, pp. 25-68.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

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.