Upgrading high-stakes assessments

Albert Oosterhof describes current research into the effectiveness of a new assessment strategy

HIGH -STAKES ASSESSMENTS have existed for many years, but their use has become increasingly widespread and their results increasingly influential. Pupils’ performance on these assessments not only have significant consequences for themselves, but also for teachers and schools.

What we know
● If assessments downgrade particular types of competencies, what is learned also will be downgraded.
● For practical reasons, high-stakes tests downgrade complex skills. It may be practical to assess these skills if samples of pupils are used.
● Because tests involve only samples of tasks, pupils’ performance may not generalise to what would have been observed had different, equally appropriate tasks been used.

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June 2011