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Committee to Elect Piotr Mitros

For excellence in the Cambridge Public School District

Some quotes on testing

When tests are used in ways that meet relevant psychometric, legal, and educational standards, students’ scores provide important information that, combined with information from other sources, can lead to decisions that promote student learning and equality of opportunity. … When test use is inappropriate, especially in making highstakes decisions about individuals, it can undermine the quality of education and equality of opportunity. … This lends special urgency to the requirement that test use with high-stakes consequences for individual students be appropriate and fair.

Is it ever appropriate to test [elementary or secondary] students on material they have not been taught? Yes, if the test is used to find out whether the schools are doing their job. But if that same test is used to hold students “accountable” for the failure of the schools, most testing professionals would find such use inappropriate. It is not the test itself that is the culprit in the latter case; results from a test that is valid for one purpose can be used improperly for other purposes.

The proper use of tests can result in wiser decisions about individuals and programs than would be the case without their use and also can provide a route to broader and more equitable access to education. … The improper use of tests, however, can cause considerable harm to test takers and other parties affected by test-based decisions.

Tests are not perfect. Test questions are a sample of possible questions that could be asked in a given area. Moreover, a test score is not an exact measure of a student’s knowledge or skills. A student’s score can be expected to vary across different versions of a test – within a margin of error determined by the reliability of the test – as a function of the particular sample of questions asked and/or transitory factors, such as the student’s health on the day of the test. Thus, no single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student’s knowledge.

An educational decision that will have a major impact on a test taker should not be made solely or automatically on the basis of a single test score. Other relevant information about the student’s knowledge and skills should also be taken into account