Unfinished Business: More Measured Approaches in Standards-Based Reform

Jennifer Leischer

Paul E. Barton
Educational Testing Service
January 2005

In this ETS policy report, veteran analyst Paul E. Barton analyzes numerous studies and concludes that, while most states have developed academic standards, too often their tests, curricula, and performance goals are not properly aligned with those standards. This, Barton notes, will render any assessment of progress meaningless. But this "unfinished business" isn't limited to alignment. He also finds error in basing assessments of progress on a single marker (such as "proficient" or "adequate") instead of looking at the entire achievement distribution. He advocates value-added assessments to take into account a host of other factors beyond "what happens in school." And he questions the timing of assessments - at the end of the year, far too late to assist instruction during the year. To measure the outcomes of standards-based reforms properly, he argues, much work still remains. To see for yourself, visit here.

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