Supovitz, J. (2009). Can high stakes testing leverage educational improvement? Prospects from the last decade of testing and accountability reform. Journal of Educational Change, 10, 211- 227.
Supovitz discusses testing and accountability in the United States, focusing on trends over the last 10 years. The author begins by presenting four theories underlying test-based accountability (motivational theory, the theory of alignment, informational theory, and symbolism) and the ways in which these theories relate to test-based accountability. Next, Supovtiz examines trends in high stakes testing over the past decade noting numerous critiques of the testing movement (e.g., narrowing of the curriculum, biased tests) and the effects of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The author then presents lessons learned from America’s use of test-based accountability systems. Supovitz notes that while high-stakes tests have led to changed instructional practices, these changes are largely seen in terms of narrowed curriculum and more test prep activities. Furthermore, high-stakes tests provide useful information for school- and district-level data, though little instructional guidance for actual classroom practice. High-stakes testing has, however, encouraged teachers to more fully consider alignment of curriculum, standards, and assessment. Supovitz concludes with recommendations to better utilize high-stakes testing. Specifically, he highlights the need to develop teacher responses to patterns found in assessment data (i.e., noticing patterns in student errors/misconceptions and then taking necessary steps to address them) and the need to develop a coherent, comprehensive system of assessment including formative assessments, interim assessments, and summative assessments.
Balanced Assessment System, Data Systems, Expectations for Data Use, Quality of Assessment Data