National Tests and Target Setting: Maintaining Consistent Standards.Report as inadecuate

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It is now seen as an economic and political necessity for countries to produce higher levels of performance across the spectrum of ability of all their students. This paper describes one example of the influence of political conditions on the process of developing assessment instruments and on measuring standards. In England, the trend is toward total accountability in education, from the National Curriculum introduced in 1988 to the National Curriculum assessment system that has been implemented since about 1996. The widespread use of target setting as a management and motivational device has become part of the assessment and curriculum process. At the start of the current contracts for testing, covering tests for the years 2000 to 2002, the government's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the National Foundation for Educational Research agreed that no one method of standard setting could stand public scrutiny. For this reason, four methods are being used to assure the constant nature of standards: (1) direct statistical equating with the test from the previous year; (2) equating of the new test with an anchor test; (3) an Angoff-type standard setting procedure; and (4) a "script scrutiny" procedure. Each of these approaches is described. These processes illustrate that the setting and maintenance of standards is a social and societal process that can stand only if it is acceptable publicly and politically. (Contains 20 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: Academic Standards, Accountability, Educational Trends, Equated Scores, Foreign Countries, National Competency Tests, National Curriculum, Scoring, Standard Setting (Scoring), Test Construction

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Author: Whetton, Chris; Twist, Elizabeth; Sainsbury, Marian



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