Adapting Course Placement Processes in Response to COVID-19 Disruptions
Feb 16, 2021
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated concerns about whether differences in school-aggregate test scores can be interpreted to represent real and meaningful differences in school progress and performance. In this report, RAND researchers investigate one issue that may contaminate utilization of COVID-19–era school-aggregate scores: changes in school composition over time.
Implications for School-Average Interim Test Score Use
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School officials regularly use school-aggregate test scores to monitor school performance and make policy decisions. After the U.S. Department of Education offered assessment waivers to all 50 states in 2019–2020, many educators and policymakers advocated for assessment programs to be restarted in the 2020–2021 school year to evaluate the state of teaching and learning and to inform policies for recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the use of school-aggregate test scores for these purposes relies on the assumption that differences in aggregate scores can be accurately interpreted as representing real and meaningful differences in school progress and performance. There are serious concerns about the accuracy of such interpretations even under routine schooling conditions, but the pandemic may exacerbate these issues and further compromise the comparability of these test scores. In this report, RAND researchers investigate one specific issue that may contaminate utilization of COVID-19–era school-aggregate scores and result in faulty comparisons with historical and other proximal aggregate scores: changes in school composition over time. To investigate this issue, they examine data from NWEA's Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth assessments, interim assessments used by states and districts during the 2020–2021 school year.
The research reported here was sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.
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