Reforming federal testing policy to support teaching and learning

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The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) assumes that state-mandated tests provide useful information to school administrators and teachers. However, interviews with administrators and teachers suggest that Minnesota's tests, which are representative of the current generation of state-mandated tests, fail to provide useful information to administrators and teachers about areas that need attention. The use of a single level of difficulty causes harmful stress and provides measurements of poor quality for many students. Computer-adaptive tests are a practical alternative, provide more useful information, reduce stress among students, and address four major concerns that teachers have about testing. This alternative could strengthen the link between testing and improved educational outcomes and improve the chances that NCLB will have a positive impact. However, current federal policy prohibits the use of computer-adaptive tests for accountability purposes. This article provides specific recommendations that potentially could address four critical concerns about current state-mandated tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-524
Number of pages30
JournalEducational Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Computer adaptive testing
  • NCLB
  • Testing
  • Testing policy


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