« Can 'Googling' for Texts Motivate Struggling Readers? | Main | Attention Science Teachers: Your Periodic Tables Are Now Out of Date »

Big Changes in High School Testing Allowed in Every Student Succeeds Act

15-ESSA-Testing-blog.jpgBy guest blogger Catherine Gewertz. Cross-posted from High School & Beyond.

The new version of the No Child Left Behind Act has gotten a lot of attention for shifting a lot of power over education decisions back to the states. But a little-noticed provision of the law could profoundly change the nature and meaning of high school testing.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, now going by the nickname ESSA, allows states and districts to dump their current state tests to measure high school achievement, and use college entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT instead.

This move might not sound like much on the surface, but it would represent a major shift in how achievement is measured, and in what kind of achievement is being measured. And in doing that, it would suggest an important change in what we think high school is for.

I explore these issues in a story posted on edweek.org.

There's been a lot of action on the high school testing front, as we've been reporting to you on this blog. Even with major questions still unanswered—such as whether the SAT and ACT are valid ways to measure mastery of states' academic standards—states are piling on to substitute them for their previous state assessments.

Seven states have won permission from the U.S. Department of Education to use those exams for the accountability reports required by federal law. (Check my story to find out which ones!) And a growing list of states are ditching tests like PARCC and Smarter Balanced to use the SAT or ACT as their high school test.

A clear advantage is a reduction in testing time: States can make these widely known tests do double duty, since many students take them anyway. But experts caution that rushing to substitute the ACT or SAT for standards-based tests comes with big caveats, too. And without tending to those questions, states run the risk of having invalid results or being unclear about exactly what they're measuring. And that says something important about our education system, since what you measure, and how, reflects what you value.

Photo: Seventh graders at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, Mass., review a PARCC practice test in 2014 to get acquainted with the format before field-testing the computer-based assessments. --Gretchen Ertl for Education Week-File

See also:

Will States Improve Their College- and Career-Readiness Testing Under New ESEA?

Get Curriculum Matters delivered to your inbox as soon as new posts are published. Sign up hereAlso, for analysis of news and policy about testing.


Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments