chapter  14
24 Pages

Participation in Large-Scale State Assessment and Accountability Systems: Patricia J. Almond, Camilla Lehr, Martha L. Thurlow, and Rachel Quenemoen

We are beginning a new century committed to the principles of standardsbased

educational reform in the United States. We have established national and state

assessment systems developed around high academic standards, and we use these

assessment systems to measure student progress toward the standards. The public is

accustomed to learning frequently and routinely about the academic achievement of

students in schools at the local, state, national, and international levels. Reports on

student performance are standard fare in newspapers, on the evening news, and in

political campaigns. Across the nation, citizens want information about educational

results; they expect public education to be held accountable for all students, and they

demand evidence of improvement where needed. This avid attention to the results of

schooling accompanies a comprehensive, nationwide push to improve education, the

standards-based reform movement. The last two decades of the 20th century have also

seen a major change in the demographic makeup of society. Our public schools are

serving an increasingly diverse population of students-students with varied cultural

backgrounds, of wide-ranging socioeconomic status (SES), and with many more

significant disabilities. For this more diversified student body to benefit from school

reform efforts, all students must participate in the large-scale assessment programs

designed as part of the accountability system in standards-based reform. What does it

mean to participate in a large-scale assessment? In this chapter, we take a straightforward

approach. Participation in large-scale assessment means students take national, state, or

district tests; have their tests scored; and have the scores reported as part of the data used

to measure student and school performance against standards, hold schools accountable,

and identify school improvement strategies.