Using the Results of a National Assessment of Educational Achievement

Overview

What are students learning? Throughout the world, governments striving to improve educational quality are turning to national assessments to provide this much-needed information in key curriculum areas. The capacity for carrying out national assessments has grown remarkably in recent years, but it has not been matched by widespread use of their findings. This book seeks to maximize an appreciation for the value of such data and to assist countries in exploiting the knowledge that national assessments yield.

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Overview

What are students learning? Throughout the world, governments striving to improve educational quality are turning to national assessments to provide this much-needed information in key curriculum areas. The capacity for carrying out national assessments has grown remarkably in recent years, but it has not been matched by widespread use of their findings. This book seeks to maximize an appreciation for the value of such data and to assist countries in exploiting the knowledge that national assessments yield.

'Using the Results of a National Assessment of Educational Achievement' identifies the main factors affecting the use of national assessment findings. These include the political context in which an assessment is carried out, the nature of the assessment (census based or sample based), the assignment of accountability for the results, and the quality of assessment instruments. The book describes the type of information that the main report of a national assessment should contain, as well as other means of communicating findings to technical and nontechnical audiences. It outlines general considerations in translating national assessment results into policy and action, and examines specific procedures for using the data in policy making, educational management, teaching, and promoting public awareness.

The topics addressed in this volume should be of interest to policy makers, educators, researchers, and development practitioners.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Abbreviations xv

1 Factors Affecting the use and Nonuse of National Assessment Findings 1

The Political Context of a National Assessment 3

Accountability 5

The Quality of the Assessment Instrument 15

Type of Assessment 17

Underuse of National Assessment Findings 20

Conclusion 24

2 Reporting a National Assessment: The Main Report 29

Context of the National Assessment 31

Objectives of the National Assessment 31

Framework for the National Assessment 32

Procedures in Administration of the National Assessment 32

Description of Achievement in the National Assessment 33

Correlates of Achievement 37

Change in Achievement Over Time 42

Conclusion 45

3 Reporting a National Assessment: Other Instruments to Communicate Findings 47

Product Specification Sheet 48

Briefing Ministers and Senior Policy Personnel 49

Publishing Summary Reports 50

Publishing Technical Reports 53

Publishing Thematic Reports 56

Securing Media Reports 56

Issuing Press Releases 58

Holding Press Conferences 62

Conducting Individual Briefings 63

Posting Web Site Reports 63

Making Assessment Data Available 64

Other Dissemination Instruments 66

Conclusion 67

4 Translating Assessment Findings into Policy and Action 69

Institutional Capacity to Absorb and Use Information 70

Trustworthiness and Relevance of Information Provided by an Assessment 71

Procedures to Identify Appropriate Policy or Action Following an Assessment 71

Determination of a Systemwide or Targeted Intervention 75

Complexity of Policy Formation and Decision Making 76

Conclusion 77

5 National Assessment Findings, Policy, and Educational Management79

Describing Achievement 80

Describing Resources 81

Monitoring Achievement 82

Reviewing the Education System 84

Formulating General Policy and Assisting in Decision Making 84

Setting Standards 88

Providing Resources to Schools 90

Supporting Curriculum Revision 92

Revising Textbooks 94

Conclusion 95

6 National Assessment Findings and Teaching 97

Teachers' Professional Development 98

Focus on Schools and Classroom Teaching 108

Conclusion 121

7 National Assessment Findings and Public Awareness 125

Examples of the Use of Assessment Results to Inform the Public 127

The Role of the Media 129

Developing a Communication Strategy 130

Conclusion 132

8 Toward Optimizing the Use and Value of National Assessments 135

Optimizing the Use of National Assessment Findings 137

Developing National Assessments to Increase Their Value 139

Conclusion 146

References 147

Index 163

Boxes

1.1 Issues on Which a National Assessment Can Throw Light 2

1.2 Evaluating Achievement on Limited Evidence 8

1.3 The Nagative Effect of High-Stakes Accountability Uses 10

1.4 Assigning Accountability for Student Achievement 13

1.5 Shifting the Blame for School Failure 13

1.6 Two Uses of Data from an International Assessment 20

1.7 Extent of Use of National Assessment Results, Honduras 21

3.1 Summary Report of Illinois State Grade 4 Students' Reading Achievement Levels on the 2007 NAEP: United States 51

3.2 Suggestions for Applying the PISA Approach to Teaching and Learning Mathematics: Ireland 52

3.3 Press Release Excerpt, NAEP: United States 60

3.4 Sample News Release: United States 61

3.5 Web Site, Mathematics Achievement in Primary Schools: Ireland 64

3.6 Site Map, NAEP Web Site: United States 65

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