New Report Continues the Dialogue on Testing Integrity

Academic assessment plays an important role in making decisions about the education of our children. We — parents, educators, and administrators — all depend on valid and reliable data. Yet a series of high-profile cheating incidents over the last several years has raised concerns about the integrity of those testing data. And even though every state has made an effort to prevent cheating, states haven’t always had access to a library of test security strategies that are most likely to work.

The Department asked the public for input on addressing testing irregularities. We received recommendations for policies and procedures from a variety of sources, including educators, academic researchers, testing companies, law firms, and nonprofit organizations.  Subsequently, the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics held a symposium on testing integrity in Washington, D.C., featuring 16 expert panelists including many of the best thinkers and practitioners in this area.  During the day-long convening, these experts discussed the most effective means to prevent, detect, and investigate testing irregularities in traditional assessment and in the technology-rich assessments of the future.

The Department has released a report summarizing what we heard.  This report consists largely of the opinions of experts who presented at the Symposium or responded to our request for information. We hope that this document will be a starting point for further dialogue around the integrity of academic assessments and that it will help State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) identify, share, and implement best practices for preventing, detecting, and investigating irregularities in testing.

Jack Buckley is commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics

2 Comments

  1. Integrity of testing brings up the issue of whether tests are a worthwhile activity. What is the cost in dollars of testing programs in total? When are teachers provided time to analyze test data and plan strategies in response to data, given increasing class sizes and other activities such as grading papers to provide student feedback? We are spending a lot of public dollars with little forethought concerning provision of time for teachers to examine data. A time audit needs to be conducted to realistically determine how much time is provided to teachers in order to plan useful response strategies as a result of tests data. In other words, testing needs to prove itself a productive practical strategy with meaningful end results. Are we spending dollars on tests that might be more productively spend on other stategies? Has testing changed teaching? Many would argue that it has. Have these changes proved beneficial?

  2. There needs to be an appeal at the National Level and the State level to repeal the punitive aspects of Standardized Testing and Assessments. It is unconstitutional to retain a student, deny graduation and the High School Diploma to students who do not pass a single test. There is no guarantee that the student was properly prepared to pass the test.

    It was grossly unfair to the students in the state of Indiana that was required to pass the Indiana I-Step when it was first implemented in the year 2000. School officials in the South Bend Community School Corporation was not effective in informing, educating students and their parents of the test when it was pending, and the consequences of not passing it. Not only does it have negative effects on the student but it has negative effects on them as adults if they graduate without a regular diploma, it creates a system of discrimmination in getting gainful employment and attending college.

    Could this be a conservative attempt to exclude, and regulate the lowest paying jobs to a certain group of people.

    Repeal Highstakes Tests Now!

    Oletha

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