Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation

Introduction 

The School District Board commissioned the Assessment Task Force to conduct a study give written recommendations on how to appropriate information concerning the students’ achievements improve the students’ overall scores on standardized test within the school district, and to ensure that the present and the new tests adopted to assess students’ performance are used in a non-discriminative manner or indiscreetly for students tracking, promotion and ultimate graduation. Furthermore, to ensure that the tests efficiently evaluating the students’ abilities in reading comprehension and mathematics understanding in the form likely to help yield. The primary focus of this study on tests, by them being used for tracing, promoting and subsequently graduating, have a considerable share for the individual students. The selected committee identified the vital relationship of the student accountability to that of the educators, schools, and, eventually, the school district. The report addresses responsibility at the students’ participation level in large-scale assessments and evaluations.

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Objectives of the study

Test form may refer to a wide range of concepts, but this study chose to focus on the requirements of mathematics and English-language disabled learners, as most of the students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the extensive- scale assessments’ consequences. The principal objective of this population is the need to improve their participation level in this kind of evaluation (Durham, 2014). This will help to hold the schools responsible for their progress in education.  The other key objective is to provide tests that can accommodate for disabilities to the extent unrelated to the concept but still respecting validity.

Assessing the purpose of tests

The deliberations of the committee held the assumption that tests served the purpose making decisions concerning students tracking, promotions and eventual graduation was in tandem with educational policy goals, which include setting high learning standards for the students, improving the students’ achievement levels, providing equal opportunity for all learners, fostering involvement of parents in the student learning, and ensuring public support for learning institutions.

The committee adopted a three-part framework in the determination of the appropriateness of the tests used, which included measurement validity (is the test valid for the set purpose, and are the constructs for measurement correctly chosen?); attribution of cause (do the performance of students in that test reflect their knowledge and skills with respect to their nature of disability?); and effectiveness of treatment (do the test scores lead to educationally beneficial consequences?. The adopted framework led to an emphasis on a variety of basic principles of typically appropriate test applications.

There should be no justification for blanket criticism of assessment and testing. Tests lead to sound decision making promoting students learning and opportunity equality when they are used in ways meeting the relevant legal, psychometric, and educational standards (Durham, 2014). Again, the observed scores of the tests should not be accepted as either immutable or infallible because they can undermine education quality and opportunity when used inappropriately, more so in high-stakes decision making about an individual. This, therefore, lends a crucial urgency to the need for appropriate and fair use of tests concerning tracking, promotion and eventual graduation of the learner.

Specific needs of the students in the school district including students with special learning needs

For students with disabilities, and for some without, the key to their success in the classroom lies in being able to have appropriate accommodations, adaptations as well as modifications effected on the instruction together with other classroom activities. Such needs as Assistive technology like the provision of laptops to help students with writing disabilities take class notes. Additionally, accommodations that include seating the disabled student’s student near the teacher (away from distractions) and allowing them to submit oral reports rather than writing essays is a special learning need for the disabled. Moreover, Modifications like reducing the homework amount for the disabled students must be assigned. Finally, there is a need for Paraprofessionals serving as teachers’ aides to help disabled students with certain tasks like taking notes as well as highlighting significant information.

Findings of the cross-cutting themes

There is limited involvement of the states, public officials, school districts, and parents in accountability concerning educational outcomes. High standards have been established and are expected to be maintained by imposing them on educators and students alone. Parents, public officials, among other concerned parties, have no proper access to information regarding the nature of tests as well as test scores since they have neglected their responsibilities concerning educational outcomes (Durham, 2014). They do not discharge their duties efficiently. Tests are used in high-stake decision making about individual students regardless of the scope covered in the learning course.

Test users apply simple ‘either-or’ option in high-stake tests as other indicators depict poor performance in school, to favor strategies that combine early intervention as well as active correction of the problems of learning (Durham, 2014). High-stake decisions involving tracking, promoting and graduating are automatically affected on a single test score basis, without other relevant information concerning the student’s abilities and skills. Generally, large-scale assessments are used to determine the future of students below ten years of age, which is unfair.

Test users do not balance efforts in preparation for efficient test-taking strategies, which are wide-scoped and have validated prospects of positive outcomes. There is not routinely inclusion of high-stakes programs of testing into an adequately designed evaluation component (Jairrels, 2019). Policymakers have not bothered to monitor both unintended and intended consequences of assessments involving high-stake decisions concerning students, especially the disabled learners in mathematics and English-reading activities.

The current tracking practices are characterized by an exclusive concentration on necessary skills, least-qualified educators, and low expectations. Due to the low-track classes, the students are even worse than how they would be in other placements (Wasserberg, 2019). Tests and additional relevant information used to place learners rarely meet professional standards of test concerning placement (Wasserberg, 2019). Even though the vital assumption regarding installation is that learners will achieve more from a specific educational experience compared to the rest, the tracking decisions are rarely accurate in prediction of the expected effects of each of the variable alternative educational experiences.

Promotion and retention decisions, as currently depicted, are based only on scores from large-scale evaluations. Single sources of information stand solely in the decision-making concerning promotion. Tests used for promotion decision-making rarely adhere to the psychometric standards for knowledge certification (Jairrels, 2019). Failed students are seldom allowed to redo any alternative forms applicable in making promotional decisions. Graduation tests rarely provide evidence the course-material mastery (Whithaus, 2015). Learners who risk failing a test meant for graduation are rarely advised well in advance of their situation. As such, they scarcely know how to improve their performance and hence, the chances of passing.

Applications of the topic to K-12 assessment 

The results and recommendations from this chosen topic is to be applied in K-12 assessment to improve the students’ overall scores on standardized test within the school district, and to ensure that the present and the new tests adopted to assess students’ performance are used in a non-discriminative manner or indiscreetly for students tracking, promotion and ultimate graduation. Furthermore, to ensure that the tests efficiently evaluating the students’ abilities in reading comprehension and mathematics understanding in the form likely to help yield. The primary focus of this study on tests, by them being used for tracing, promoting and subsequently graduating, have a considerable share for the individual students.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, testing appears to influence the teaching and to learn among the students with disabilities within schools. Valuable time and attention are dedicated to assuring that students learn tested objectives.  The messages sent out by schools to their teachers concerning the test curriculum alignment importance. As a result, teachers design instructional programs focusing on that.  The merits and demerits of being dependent on one’s views on the set standards by such tests, whether they are educationally valid or significant to concerning the disabled learners. In case the test results represent significant outcomes of learning, then testing may be considered to contribute towards the achievement of those outcomes. But they do not represent those learning the vulnerable population, then in the current practices; thus, they are considered a misguided tool. 

Recommendations 

Alternative measures should be developed and implemented, such as assessment of primary language. This should be in accompaniment of information regarding reliability, validity, and comparability of the scores on English and the primary-language assessments. States, schools as well as school districts should interpret, and report disaggregated test scores of disabled English-language learners psychometrically for the educational outcome analysis purposes.

The committee recommends initiation of deliberating forums where the public would delegate with policymakers on critical decision-making concerning testing and assessment. All participants are expected to have equal standing in these forums. An independent oversight body is among the recommendations of the committee. This would facilitate regular monitoring and auditing of the high stakes testing programs. Labeling is another method recommended to ensure that test producers report to test users with regards to the appropriate purposes and limitations of the provided tests. Finally, the committee recommends amendment of the federal regulations to include standards of efficient test use. Federal laws could be a powerful tool for delivering relevant information to policymakers as well as the public about the efficient use of tests. Relying on federal regulations would incorporate the existing judicial and administrative mechanisms to promote consistency in testing standards, which are rarely enforced.

                                                   References

Durham, G. (2014). Standardized testing skills: Strategies, techniques, activities to help raise students’ scores.

Jairrels, V. (2019). African Americans and standardized tests: The real reason for low test scores. Sauk Village, Ill: African American Images.

Wasserberg, M. J. (2019). Stereotype Threat and the Standardized Testing Experiences of African American Children at an Urban Elementary School.Whithaus, C. (2015). Teaching and evaluating writing in the age of computers and high-stakes testing. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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