Genral Session 3 James Popham Handout

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(May 2015)
The NAGB-NCES Assessment-Literacy Understandings
The following understandings are to be imparted to three target audiences as part of a national
assessment-literacy campaign currently being undertaken collaboratively by the National
Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Because a number of governmental and nongovernmental groups are currently attempting to
enhance the assessment literacy of American teachers and school administrators, this potentially
influential initiative is focused chiefly on parents (also grandparents and legal guardians),
policymakers (especially members of school boards as well as legislators), and students
themselves. The understandings will not necessarily be used verbatim in communications
materials; they will be translated into language appropriate for each audience and communication
vehicle.
Understandings for Parents
1. Evidence for Interpretations and Uses. Educational tests are used for different purposes and
those purposes should be clear. Consumers of test information should be provided with clear
descriptions of how to interpret and use test scores as well as evidence supporting the
appropriateness of those interpretations and uses.
2. Accuracy of Test Scores. Because test scores are only estimates of students’ knowledge and
intellectual skills, neither of which is observable, it is important to employ multiple sources of
information when reaching a decision based on a student’s test performance.
3. Fairness. Assessments must be developed, administered, scored, and reported in ways that are
fair for all students.
4. Variations in Test Quality. Educational tests, both teacher-made classroom assessments and
large-scale standardized tests, can vary in quality. Tests should be accompanied by persuasive
evidence supporting their accuracy, appropriateness, and fairness.
5. Assessments to Improve Teaching and Learning. Classroom assessments will substantially
improve students’ progress when used to help determine if adjustments are needed in how
teachers are teaching or in how students are learning. Such assessments can provide useful
feedback for both teachers and students by identifying knowledge and skills that have or have
not been mastered.
This initiative is sponsored by the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics
Understandings for Policymakers
1. Evidence for Interpretations and Uses. Educational tests are used for different purposes and
those purposes should be clear. Consumers of test information should be provided with clear
descriptions of how to interpret and use test scores as well as evidence supporting the
appropriateness of those interpretations and uses.
2. Accuracy of Test Scores. Because test scores are only estimates of students’ knowledge and
intellectual skills, neither of which is observable, it is important to employ multiple sources of
information when reaching a decision based on a student’s test performance.
3. Fairness. Assessments must be developed, administered, scored, and reported in ways that are
fair for all students.
4. Variations in Test Quality. Educational tests, both teacher-made classroom assessments and
large-scale standardized tests, can vary in quality. Tests should be accompanied by persuasive
evidence supporting their accuracy, appropriateness, and fairness.
5. The Need for Interpretable Analyses. Understandable and relevant information about the
function and quality of tests can help policymakers create useful and appropriate policies, and
also help them explain the reasons for those policies. Everyone should be able to decipher test
reports, not just assessment experts.
Understandings for Students
1. Accuracy of Test Scores. Because test scores are only estimates of students’ knowledge and
intellectual skills, neither of which is observable, it is important to employ multiple sources of
information when reaching a decision based on a student’s test performance.
2. Fairness. Students should justifiably expect that the tests they take will be developed,
administered, scored, and reported fairly for all students.
3. Predictive Tests and Student Effort. Although students’ performances on educational tests
are often moderately predictive of those students’ later test scores and grades, the level of
effort students expend in continuing to try to master the skills and knowledge being assessed
can be important in determining students’ subsequent academic success.
4. Tests’ Contribution to Learning. Classroom assessments will substantially improve students’
progress when used to help determine if adjustments are needed in how teachers are teaching
or in how students are learning. Such assessments can provide useful feedback for both
teachers and students by identifying knowledge and skills that have or have not been mastered.
5. Preparing to Perform Well on Tests. Familiarity with the test purpose and format – and how
best to prepare for and take a test – can lead to more accurate measurement. However, it is not
a substitute for mastering the knowledge and skills being assessed.
This initiative is sponsored by the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics
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