Fact Sheet on NEA's views regarding multiple measures for educators
Ensure That Single Statewide Standardized Assessments in Reading and Math Are Not the Primary Measures of School Quality and Student Learning in the ESEA Reauthorization
Current law holds all schools accountable based solely on how many students reach a specific point on the achievement scale on one standardized test in each of two subjects -- reading and math.
While the draft ESEA reauthorization bill under discussion in the House does allow for the use of multiple measures in Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), it weights too heavily the two current state reading and math test results.
Under the House draft, standardized test scores will count for at least 85 percent of the AYP weight for elementary and middle schools, and 75 percent for high schools.
The House draft offers only two possible measures for elementary schools: results of other statewide tests and progress on reading and math tests for moving students from below basic to basic and from proficient to advanced. High schools have three additional measures, but the list is still too limited.
Current law uses overly narrow measures for school improvement, improperly labeling many schools as low-performing and imposing punishments on them.
While the House draft takes some steps in the right direction, provisions on multiple measures are still too restrictive and overly reliant on standardized test scores.
Testing experts time and time again caution against over-reliance on single assessment instruments. In an April 2007 letter to Senator Kennedy and Representative Miller, an independent group of testing experts stated "a single measure does not have the reliability and validity necessary to be the sole source of information used to make high stakes decisions." The experts also cautioned that "with regard to educational outcomes…other relevant information must be taken into account to assure fairness and validity of data driven decisions."
Standardized tests are imperfect measures that assess student's memorization skills, rather than the ability to think critically and demonstrate 21st century skills.
The Education Sector report Margins of Error , released in 2006, found deep, structural problems stemming from the tremendous expansion of standardized testing.
NEA recommends adding attendance rates and in-grade retention rates to the list of allowable measures and allowing states to propose additional measures, subject to approval as part of their state plan.