In Testing, How Reliable Are Year-to-Year Comparisons?
Surprising answers to a question that gets too little attention.
A central tenet of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is that educational improvement at a school can be measured by comparing student scores on standards-based tests from one year to the next. An important question about such a strategy, one that has gotten surprisingly little attention, is this: How accurate are such year-to-year comparisons? The answer is that they are much less accurate than people assume—and in some cases, wildly inaccurate.
Psychometric methods are used to equate proficiency cut-scores from year to year, so that a consistent level of knowledge is required over time, irrespective of a particular year’s test. The margins of error in these equated proficiency cut-scores are impossible to compute, and equating calculations can easily be off by a point or two,...
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- Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
- Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, VA
- Regional Area Partner
- Focus EduVation, US
- Amargosa Valley Elementary School, Amargosa Valley, NV
- Christ the King Preparatory School, NJ
- Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, TX