Out-of-Level Testing: Pros and Cons.Report as inadecuate

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NCEO Policy Directions, n9 Apr 1999

This paper addresses the controversy about use of "out-of-level" testing, the practice of assessing students (usually those with disabilities) with a lower-level version of a test. The controversy pits unintended instructional consequences against "accurately" measuring performance and avoiding student frustration. Introductory sections explain what out-of-level testing is and offer a brief history of its use. Next, arguments for out-of-level testing are offered, including avoidance of student frustration and emotional trauma; improved accuracy of measurement; and better measurement when the context of the test matches the student's instructional level. Arguments against out-of-level testing stress that assessments must be consistent with the purpose for which they are used and that out-of-level testing reflects low expectations for students and negatively affects their instruction. Next, five assumptions for out-of-level testing and objections to these assumptions are listed. Three considerations in using out-of-level testing for individual students are identified: (1) performance on grade level assessment is likely to be spuriously higher than on out-of-level assessments; (2) instructional issues need to be addressed before students are placed in out-of-level tests; and (3) unintended consequences of out-of-level testing include never reaching grade-level or passing a high stakes test. Finally, questions for decision makers to consider before using out-of-level tests are suggested. (DB)

Descriptors: Decision Making, Disabilities, Educational Assessment, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Evaluation Methods, Standardized Tests, Student Evaluation, Test Use, Testing Problems

NCEO Publications Office, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 E. River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($3.50). Tel: 612-624-8561; Fax: 612-624-0879; Web site: http://www.coled.umn.edu/nceo.

Author: Thurlow, Martha; Elliott, Judy; Ysseldyke, Jim

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=8520&id=ED440509

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