Education

Testing

May 29, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Off-Grade Testing

Many states use “out of level” testing—the administration of a test at a lower grade level than the one in which a student is enrolled—as a way of including all students in statewide testing programs. A study by researchers Martha L. Thurlow and Jane E. Minnema suggests, however, that political pressures may drive such practices, rather than research findings.

Federal law requires states to involve all students, including those with disabilities, in their testing programs. As of September 2000, 12 states permitted out-of-level testing as one way to comply with the law: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

But the researchers, with the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, found little commonality among state policies.

While some states had detailed procedures for testing students out of level, for example, others simply required that performance data be available to support such decisions. Some states limited off-level testing to one grade below a student’s enrolled grade, while others permitted testing at whatever level was necessary to match a student’s instruction.

Finally, while some states viewed such practices as “modifications” or “accommodations” to state tests, others labeled them “alternate assessments.” Most states did not specifically monitor out-of- level testing at the local level.

“There are no research studies to date that comprehensively demonstrate the value or lack therein of testing students out of level,” the researchers write in their forthcoming study.

“What we seem to have in out-of-level testing is a political animal,” they add. “One indication of this is the rapidly changing landscape of which states allow out- of-level testing.”

As of January of this year, Alaska and North Dakota had dropped their out-of-level testing policies, while Hawaii, Mississippi, Oregon, and Texas had added the practice.

Absent a set of guidelines that supports the appropriate use of out-of-level testing, the authors suggest, states should tread carefully.

To complicate the problem further, they note, no consensus has formed on how to incorporate the results from such tests into state accountability and reporting systems. At a minimum, they argue, states should monitor such practices to ensure that the selection of students for out-of- level testing is as appropriate as possible, and publicly report all results.

—Lynn Olson lolson@epe.org

A version of this article appeared in the May 29, 2002 edition of Education Week

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 13, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 21, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read