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QUESTION/PROBLEM: Improving Students' Test Scores/Teaching to the Test

last updated June 4, 1997

Example queries:

My principal has directed us to raise our students' standardized achievement test scores so that we will look good on our school report card. Please tell me how!

How does a school address curriculum alignment and scope and sequence to improve test scores?

How do I improve the scores on my fifth graders on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills?

Table of Contents


Many of the queries received by this clearinghouse presuppose that "teaching to the test", also known as "washback", is an acceptable practice, whereas there is much documentation to indicate that it is not. Although alignment of curriculum to the broad objectives of achievement tests is logical, attempts to teach specific test content are unethical. We highly recommend the appended ERIC Digest, entitled, Preparing Students to Take Standardized Achievement Tests by William A. Mehrens (above) as a plain-spoken guide to the continuum of appropriate-to-inappropriate test preparation practices.

[Table of Contents]

ERIC DOCUMENTS CITATIONS for "Washback" or "Teaching to the Test"

  ED385143  FL023141
  How Does Washback Influence Teaching? Implications for Hong Kong.
  Cheng, Liying
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  TEACHING GUIDE (052)
  This paper presents preliminary research findings, using 
qualitative and quantitative methods, on the washback effect of the 
revised Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in English in 
Hong Kong secondary schools.  The research employed various 
methodological techniques such as questionnaires (one sent out to 42 
students; and the other to 48 teachers), interviews, and classroom 
observations, which are based on an in-depth case study approach to 
sampled schools in Hong Kong.  Findings indicate that the washback 
effect worked quickly and efficiently to bring about changes in 
teaching materials, largely due to the commercial characteristics of 
Hong Kong society, but somewhat slowly, reluctantly, and with 
difficulty in the methodology that teachers employ.  It is suggested 
that teaching content has so far received the most intensive 
washback effects, although washback effects have also been observed 
in teachers' attitudes and behaviors and in the English curriculum.  
(Contains 38 references.) (Author/NAV)
  Descriptors: *English (Second Language); Evaluation Methods; 
Foreign Countries; *Language Tests; Questionnaires; Research 
Methodology; Secondary Education; *Test Norms
  Identifiers: Hong Kong; *Teaching to the Test

  EJ465511  FL522819
  Does Washback Exist?
  Alderson, J. Charles; Wall, Dianne
  Applied Linguistics, v14 n2 p115-29 Jun   1993
  ISSN: 0142-6001
  Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120);  REVIEW LITERATURE (070);  
  The notion of washback, that testing influences teaching, is 
explored and a series of possible hypotheses are advanced.  The 
empirical research in general education and in language education is 
reviewed to determine whether washback actually exists, how it can be 
measured, and what accounts for its form.  Proposals for future 
research are suggested.  (34 references) (Author/LB)
  Descriptors: Foreign Countries; *Language Tests; Teaching Methods; 
*Test Coaching; *Testing Problems
  Identifiers: Nepal; Netherlands; Sri Lanka; *Teaching to the Test; 

  ED345513  FL020178
  Does Washback Exist?
  Alderson, J. Charles; Wall, Dianne
  Feb 1992
  23p.; Paper presented at a Symposium on the Educational and Social 
Impacts of Language Tests, Language Testing Research Colloquium 
(February 1992). For a related document, see FL 020 177.
  The concept of washback, or backwash, defined as the influence of 
testing on instruction, is discussed with relation to second language 
teaching and testing.  While the literature of second language 
testing suggests that tests are commonly considered to be powerful 
determiners of what happens in the classroom, the concept of 
washback is not well defined.  The first part of the discussion 
focuses on the concept, including several different interpretations 
of the phenomenon.  It is found to be a far more complex topic than 
suggested by the basic washback hypothesis, which is also discussed 
and outlined.  The literature on education in general is then 
reviewed for additional information on the issues involved.  Very 
little research was found that directly related to the subject, but 
several studies are highlighted.  Following this, empirical research 
on language testing is consulted for further insight.  Studies in 
Turkey, the Netherlands, and Nepal are discussed.  Finally, areas for 
additional research are proposed, including further definition of 
washback, motivation and performance, the role of educational 
setting, research methodology, learner perceptions, and explanatory 
factors.  A 39-item bibliography is appended.  (MSE)
  Descriptors: *Classroom Techniques; Educational Environment; 
Educational Research; Educational Theories; Foreign Countries; 
Language Research; *Language Tests; *Learning Processes; Literature 
Reviews; Research Needs; Second Language Instruction; *Second 
Languages; *Testing
  Identifiers: Nepal; Netherlands; *Teaching to the Test; Turkey

  ED345512  FL020177
  Examining Washback: The Sri Lankan Impact Study.
  Wall, Dianne; Alderson, J. Charles
  30p.; For a related document, see FL 020 178.
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143)
  A study in Sri Lanka concerning the effects of second language 
tests, specifically the O-Level examination in English as a Second 
Language, on classroom language instruction is reported.  The study 
investigates the phenomenon of washback or backwash, the influence of 
testing on instruction.  It is cited as the only known research 
investigating washback in language education through classroom 
observation.  The study was conducted at the secondary school level, 
and combined classroom observation with data from interviews, 
questionnaire responses, and test analyses to determine whether 
washback exists, to what degree it operates, and whether it is a 
positive or negative force in this educational context.  The report 
gives background information on the project; discusses the 
characteristics of positive and negative washback in terms of 
instructional content, instructional methods, and techniques, and 
assessment and presents the results of two rounds of classroom 
observation.  It is concluded that washback occurred in both positive 
and negative forms, to some degree, in teaching content, but not in 
methodology.  Evidence of washback, both positive and negative, on 
the way teachers and local education officers design tests was also 
found.  An 11-item bibliography is appended.  Further research is 
recommended.  (MSE)
  Descriptors: Classroom Observation Techniques; Educational 
Environment; *English (Second Language); Foreign Countries; *Language 
Tests; Secondary Education; Second Language Instruction; Second 
Language Learning; *Standardized Tests; Teaching Methods; *Testing
  Identifiers: Impact Studies; *Sri Lanka; *Teaching to the Test

  EJ501466  FL524520
  Language Tests and ESL Teaching. Examining Standardized Test 
Content: Some Advice for Teachers.
  DeVincenzi, Felicia
  TESOL Quarterly, v29 n1 p180-84 Spr   1995
  ISSN: 0039-8322
   Document Type: TEACHING GUIDE (052);  JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
  Argues that teachers need to become "informed consumers" of 
standardized tests in order to influence decisions about test use and 
about ways to help students perform at their best.  Six strategies 
for considering the content of a test form are presented.  (LR)
  Descriptors: *Content Analysis; English (Second Language); 
*Evaluation; Guidelines; *Language Tests; Measurement Objectives; 
Reliability; *Standardized Tests; *Test Construction; *Test Validity
  Identifiers: International English Language Testing System; 
Teaching to the Test; Test of English as a Foreign Language

  ED381757  CS012113
  Assessment and Decision Making in Schools: A Cross-Site Analysis. 
Technical Report No. 614.
  Stephens, Diane; And Others
  Apr 1995
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143)
  Using a case-study approach, a study sought to describe what 
assessment looked like in four school districts (two schools per 
district, two classrooms per school).  Interviews were conducted with 
students, parents, teachers, principals, and central office staff to 
understand assessment from multiple perspectives.  Teachers were 
interviewed prior to and after three half-days of observation to 
understand assessment as part of classroom practice.  Results 
indicated that the meanings of particular concepts, such as 
assessment, curriculum, and accountability, varied significantly 
across districts.  The salient relationship was not the one between 
assessment and instruction, but rather the relationship of each of 
these to the decision-making model of the district.  Generally, when 
assessment-as-test did appear to drive instruction, this relationship 
seemed to be an artifact of a model in which individuals ceded 
authority for decision making to outsiders.  When assessment-as-test 
did not appear to drive instruction, this relationship seemed to 
represent a model in which individuals maintained the authority to 
make decisions within the framework of their individual and 
collective philosophies.  Findings suggest that assessment-as-test 
does not necessarily drive instruction, and that when assessment-as-
test does drive instruction, it does not drive it in a way that might 
be considered good instruction.  (Contains 48 references and a table 
of data.  The interview questions, and the observation and interview 
coding systems are attached.) (Author/RS)
  Descriptors: *Administrator Behavior; Case Studies; *Decision 
Making; Educational Practices; Elementary Education; Evaluation 
Criteria; Evaluation Research; *Institutional Characteristics; 
*Teacher Administrator Relationship; *Teacher Behavior
  Identifiers: School Culture; *Teaching to the Test

  EJ488844  TM518061
  Assessing the Effects of Standardized Testing on Schools.
  Herman, Joan L.; And Others
  Educational and Psychological Measurement, v54 n2 p471-82 Sum 
  ISSN: 0013-1644
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
  A questionnaire about the effects of standardized testing and the 
meaning of scores and score gains was completed by 341 upper 
elementary school teachers.  Teachers of lower socioeconomic status 
(SES) students appear to be under greater pressure to improve scores 
and focus on test content than teachers in higher SES schools.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Achievement Gains; Achievement 
Tests; Educational Assessment; *Elementary School Teachers; 
Elementary Secondary Education; Questionnaires; *Scores; 
Socioeconomic Status; *Standardized Tests; *Test Coaching; Test Use
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test; *Testing Effects

  ED371034  TM021738
  Teaching to the Test: The Influence of Alternative Modes of 
Assessment on Teachers' Instructional Strategies.
  Gooding, Kathleen
  Apr 1994
  39p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American 
Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 4-8, 1994).
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  A survey of teachers in New York provides an initial step toward 
the development of a framework for defining, with some consistency, 
commonalities among the various methods of assessment, as it 
identifies the instructional strategies self-reported by teachers 
trained in a variety of alternative assessment methods.  Elementary 
school teachers (n=191) responded to a questionnaire developed for 
the study and validated through expert evaluations.  Teacher 
responses were analyzed according to the level of training in 
alternative assessment and the perceived level of implementation.  
Significant differences were found in the instructional practices of 
teachers implementing and those not implementing alternative modes of 
instruction.  Self-reported strategies of implementing teachers seem 
to incorporate the use of research-based behaviors and practices 
believed to affect student learning, application of knowledge, and 
self-regulated behavior positively.  Assessment appears congruent 
with instruction.  In addition, training and perceived support seem 
important to teachers' use of strategies.  Nine tables and seven 
figures present study findings.  (Contains 54 references.) (SLD)
  Descriptors: *Educational Assessment; Educational Research; 
Elementary Education; *Elementary School Teachers; Knowledge Level; 
Questionnaires; *Research Utilization; Surveys; *Teacher Education; 
*Teaching Methods; Training
  Identifiers: *Alternative Assessment; Reform Efforts; Self 
Regulation; Self Report Measures; *Teaching to the Test

  ED352375  TM019265
  How Standardized Testing Damages Education.
  Available From: FairTest, 342 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139.
  EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
  Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120);  EVALUATIVE REPORT (142)
  Despite the many limitations of standardized tests, schools use 
them to determine if children are ready for school, to group students 
for instruction, to diagnose learning disabilities and other 
handicaps, and to guide and control the curriculum and teaching 
methods.  No test is good enough to serve as the sole or primary 
basis for important educational decisions for an individual child, 
and test content is a very poor basis for determining curriculum 
content and teaching methods.  Students from low-income and minority 
groups are more likely to be retained in grade or placed in a lower 
track, while those from white middle and upper income groups are more 
likely to be given educationally advantageous placements.  Because 
raising the test score is so often the single most important 
indicator of school improvement, teaching comes to resemble testing 
more and more.  Teaching to the test can only improve student 
capabilities and knowledge if the test is good.  Better methods than 
standardized tests for educational improvement and accountability 
already exist in assessment measures based on student performance.  
These methods of assessment are as reliable as are standardized 
multiple-choice tests and are used successfully in other nations.  
  Descriptors: Accountability; Curriculum Development; Decision 
Making; Diagnostic Tests; Educational Assessment; Educational 
Discrimination; *Educational Quality; Elementary Secondary Education; 
Multiple Choice Tests; Scores; Screening Tests; *Standardized Tests; 
*Student Evaluation; Teaching Methods; Test Bias; *Testing Problems; 
Test Use
  Identifiers: Fact Sheets; Placement Tests; *Teaching to the Test

  EJ448040  TM516613
  Educators' Perceptions of NRT Misuse.
  Hall, Janie L.; Kleine, Paul F.
  Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, v11 n2 p18-22 Sum 
  ISSN: 0731-1745
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  RESEARCH REPORT (143)
  A survey of 2,256 teachers, testing coordinators, principals, and 
superintendents on ethical issues related to norm-referenced test 
(NRT) administration and practice found that 44 percent believed that 
colleagues engage in practices that are blatant cheating, and 78 
percent believed that teaching information only because it is on the 
test occurs.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes; Attitude Measures; Cheating; 
*Elementary School Teachers; Elementary Secondary Education; Ethics; 
*Norm Referenced Tests; *Principals; *Secondary School Teachers; 
*Superintendents; Surveys; Teacher Attitudes; Test Coaching; *Testing 
Problems; Test Use
  Identifiers: Teaching to the Test; Test Directors

  ED354250  TM019478
  Three Approaches for the Integration of Teaching, Testing, and 
  Kim, JinGyu
  Nov 1992
  21p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South 
Educational Research Association (21st, Knoxville, TN, November 11-
13, 1992).
   Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE (070);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  The relationships among teaching, testing, and learning are 
examined and reconceptualized based on different theories and 
computer adaptive testing.  Approaches that integrate teaching, 
testing, and learning include: (1) behavioral psychology; (2) 
cognitive psychology; and (3) computer adaptive testing (CAT).  Some 
behaviorists have assumed that all important learning objectives can 
be specified and measured completely, and some behaviorists have 
argued that teaching to tested objectives is synonymous with good 
instruction.  Some cognitive psychologists have argued that the 
mechanisms for children's acquisition of knowledge are linked 
intimately with cognitive theory, and that assessment of knowledge 
acquisition must be integrated with the instructional process.  The 
diagnostic approach and prior knowledge approach are considered as 
the main techniques of integrating teaching and testing.  Proponents 
of CAT argue that it can integrate teaching and testing as it 
provides rapid feedback about performance.  All three approaches 
identify the value and importance of linking instruction and testing.  
There is a 67-item list of references.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: *Adaptive Testing; Behaviorism; Cognitive Psychology; 
*Computer Assisted Testing; Educational Theories; Elementary 
Secondary Education; Feedback; Higher Education; Holistic Approach; 
*Integrated Activities; Knowledge Level; *Learning; *Teaching Methods; 
*Test Use
  Identifiers: Teaching to the Test

  ED347188  TM018662
  External Examinations and the Curriculum: Do They Monitor or 
  Wideen, Marvin F.; And Others
  Apr 1992
  52p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American 
Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24, 
  EDRS Price - MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  The impact of large-scale testing on curriculum policies at 
district and school levels and on science teaching at the classroom 
level was studied for British Columbia (Canada).  Other factors 
affecting teaching practices were considered.  In 1983, the Province 
reintroduced centrally set and graded province-wide examinations for 
grade 12, following a 10-year period without such examinations.  The 
examinations studied were the grade-12 final examinations in 
secondary science and science assessments conducted in grade 10.  
Data were collected from teachers and students in grades 8, 10, and 
12, and from principals and district and province administrators.  
Phase 1 data were collected from 24 teachers in 2 districts.  Phase 2 
data were collected from observations of and interviews with 56 
teachers in 10 districts as well as several administrators.  At 
grades 8 and 10, teachers reported little influence of the government 
examination.  At grade 12, the examinations had enormous impact.  
Objections usually centered around the narrowing of curriculum, the 
psychological pressures of the examinations, the erosion of creative 
teaching, and the notion that some aspects of education were being 
ignored in science teaching.  The grade-12 examinations used in 
British Columbia are not mere indicators of performance.  Evidence 
indicates that these examinations have effectively frozen innovative 
practices in grade-12 science teaching.  Alternatives to the current 
situation are discussed.  Four figures, 2 tables, and 29 references 
are included.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: *Achievement Tests; Curriculum Evaluation; Educational 
Innovation; Foreign Countries; Graduation Requirements; High Schools; 
Interviews; Science Education; Secondary School Students; *Secondary 
School Teachers; Standardized Tests; Student Attitudes; *Teacher 
Attitudes; Testing Problems; Testing Programs; Test Results; *Test 
  Identifiers: British Columbia; Curriculum Alignment; External 
Evaluation; Final Examinations; Large Scale Programs; *Provincial 
Examinations; Teaching to the Test; *Testing Effects

  ED347168  TM018495
  Teachers' Views of Ethical Standardized Test Use.
  Bright, Elizabeth L.
  Apr 1992
  12p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council 
on Measurement in Education (San Francisco, CA, April 21-23, 1992).
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  In recent years, standardized test scores have assumed an 
increasingly important role in educational assessment.  As the stakes 
involved in testing become higher, educators are forced to make 
decisions regarding the ethics involved in standardized test 
preparation and administration.  The ethical continuum of test 
preparation practices as formulated by W. A. Mehrens and J. Kaminski 
(1989) is discussed.  This continuum is instrumentalized in the form 
of scenarios pertaining to various standardized testing practices.  A 
preliminary administration of a survey, developed to present these 27 
scenarios was conducted with 102 elementary school teachers in the 
spring of 1991.  Respondents had to rate the depicted behaviors on a 
four-point Likert scale ranging from very unethical to very ethical.  
The results indicate that the respondents do not view curriculum 
alignment activities on the same ethical behavior dimension as other 
practices that affect test scores.  One table and 13 references are 
included.  (Author/SLD)
  Descriptors: Decision Making; Elementary Education; *Elementary 
School Teachers; *Ethics; Factor Analysis; *Likert Scales; Scores; 
*Standardized Tests; Student Evaluation; Surveys; *Teacher Attitudes; 
*Test Construction; Test Use
  Identifiers: Curriculum Alignment; Teaching to the Test

  ED344925  TM018259
  Altering Curricula through State Testing: Perceptions of Teachers 
and Principals.
  Brown, Dave F.
  Apr 1992
  31p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American 
Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24, 
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  Educators' perceptions of the effects of state mandated testing on 
instructional practices and curricular decisions were studied.  An 
ethnographic interview study was conducted with 30 fifth- and sixth-
grade teachers and 12 principals from Illinois, New York, and 
Tennessee.  Forty-one of the 42 respondents agreed to have their 
interviews audiotaped.  Schools in each state represented a variety 
of enrollments from low to high socioeconomic status and varied 
minority composition.  Teachers generally agreed that reading and 
mathematics sections of the state mandated tests assessed skills that 
more closely matched their curricula than did sections on language 
arts, science, or social studies.  Teachers also reported altering 
the scope and sequence of the curriculum and eliminating concepts 
that were not covered on state tests.  Participants also reported 
reluctance to use innovative instructional strategies and reported 
reliance on traditional instructional measures in the belief that 
these strategies would better prepare students for state tests.  An 
overriding theme was the reported time constraints imposed by the 
pressure associated with assuring successful student performance.  
There is a 21-item list of references.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: *Administrator Attitudes; Curriculum Development; 
Educational Change; *Elementary School Teachers; Grade 5; Grade 6; 
Intermediate Grades; Interviews; *Principals; *State Programs; 
Surveys; *Teacher Attitudes; Teaching Methods; Test Coaching; 
*Testing Programs; Test Results
  Identifiers: *Mandated Tests; Teaching to the Test; Testing Effects

  ED342802  TM017969
  Classroom Teachers' Perceptions of the Extent and Effectiveness of 
Their Schools' Uses of Standardized Test Results.
  Marso, Ronald N.; Pigge, Fred L.
  Feb 1992
  30p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of 
Teacher Educators (72nd, Orlando, FL, February 15-19, 1992).
  Document Type: CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  Approximately 225 classroom teachers representing 97 randomly 
selected Ohio school districts participated in this study.  They were 
selected as being most able to accurately inform researchers of their 
districts' standardized testing practices.  Responding to a mailed 
survey, these teachers rated their schools regarding the extent of 
use and the degree of effectiveness of uses for 17 testing practices.  
Major findings were that: (1) teachers varied little between their 
extent and effectiveness ratings; (2) elementary school teachers 
perceived more extensive and effective use of standardized test 
results than did secondary school teachers; (3) elementary school 
teachers perceived more diversity in the extensiveness and 
effectiveness of tests used for instructional purposes as compared to 
less instructionally related practices than did secondary school 
teachers; (4) teachers perceived more extensive and effective uses of 
standardized test results for non-instructional than they did for 
instructional purposes; and (5) few schools appeared to have 
established practices to facilitate the use of the results from 
standardized testing.  There are three tables of study findings and a 
16-item list of references.  (Author/SLD)
  Descriptors: Attitude Measures; Classroom Techniques; *Elementary 
School Teachers; Elementary Secondary Education; *Evaluation 
Utilization; Mail Surveys; Rating Scales; School Districts; 
*Secondary School Teachers; *Standardized Tests; *Teacher Attitudes; 
Testing Problems; *Test Results; Test Use
  Identifiers: *Ohio; Teaching to the Test

  EJ435208  UD516161
  Psychometricians' Beliefs about Learning.
  Shepard, Lorrie A.
  Educational Researcher, v20 n7 p2-16 Oct   1991
  ISSN: 0013-189X
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  RESEARCH REPORT (143)
  Studies beliefs that psychometricians have about learning through 
interviews with 50 school district testing directors.  Disputes about 
legitimate test preparation and teaching to the test are explained by 
differing beliefs about learning and implicit learning theories.  
Discusses implications for testing practices.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes; *Administrators; *Beliefs; 
Educational Policy; Interviews; *Learning Theories; *Psychometrics; 
School Districts; *Test Coaching
  Identifiers: Teaching to the Test; *Test Directors

  EJ430665  TM515770
  The Evaluation of a Measurement-and-Feedback-Driven Instruction 
System in Israel.
  Razel, Carol
  Studies in Educational Evaluation, v17 n1 p51-65   1991
  ISSN: 0191-491X
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  RESEARCH REPORT (143)
  The first year (1986-87) of a measurement-driven and feedback-
driven instruction project being conducted in Israel was evaluated.  
Criterion-referenced tests developed for the evaluation were 
administered to students in grades 3, 4, and 5 in 26 schools.  
Positive effects were found on achievement in reading comprehension 
and arithmetic.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Achievement Gains; *Criterion Referenced Tests; 
*Curriculum Evaluation; Elementary Education; *Elementary School 
Students; *Feedback; Foreign Countries; *Mathematics Achievement; 
*Reading Achievement; Reading Comprehension
  Identifiers: Israel; *Measurement Driven Instruction; Teaching to 
the Test

  ED340730  TM017777
  The Effects of High-Stakes Testing on Achievement: Preliminary 
Findings about Generalization across Tests.
  Koretz, Daniel M.; And Others
  Apr 1991
  38p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American 
Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 3-7, 1991) and 
the National Council on Measurement in Education (Chicago, IL, April 
4-6, 1991).
 Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  Detailed evidence is presented about the extent of generalization 
from high-stakes tests to other tests and about the instructional 
effects of high-stakes testing.  Data are from grade 3 of a large, 
high-poverty urban district with large numbers of Black and Hispanic 
American students.  The district's results in 1990 for two tests, 
designated Test B and Test C, were compared to the researchers' 
results for Test C (N=840 students in 36 schools).  Student-level 
comparisons were made for three study tests and Test B. For 
mathematics, all comparisons, at district and student levels, support 
the primary hypothesis that performance on the conventional high-
stakes test does not generalize well to other tests for which 
students have not been specifically prepared.  Evidence in reading is 
less consistent, but suggests weaknesses in generalizing in some 
instances.  Even the preliminary results presented in this paper 
provide a serious criticism of test-based accountability and raise 
concerns about the effects of high-stakes testing on instruction.  
Teachers in this district evidently focus on content specific to the 
test used for accountability rather than trying to improve 
achievement in the broader, more desirable sense.  Five references 
are listed, and four tables of study data and six illustrative 
figures are included.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Academic Achievement; Accountability; *Achievement 
Tests; Black Students; Comparative Testing; Elementary School 
Students; *Generalization; Grade 3; Hispanic Americans; Poverty; 
Primary Education; *Teaching Methods; Testing Problems; Test 
Reliability; Test Results; *Test Use; Urban Schools
  Identifiers: *High Stakes Tests; Teaching to the Test; *Testing 

  ED334202  TM016592
  Defensible/Indefensible Instructional Preparation for High Stakes 
Achievement Tests: An Exploratory Trialogue.
  Mehrens, William A.
  10 Apr 1991
  12p.; Revision of a paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the 
American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 3-7, 
1991) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (Chicago, 
IL, April 4-6, 1991).
 Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120);  CONFERENCE PAPER (150)
  Issues involved in high stakes testing are reviewed, with emphasis 
on the proper role of instructional preparation.  The recent focus on 
educational accountability has increased pressure to raise test 
scores.  One way of improving test scores is to teach what is on the 
test.  The following guidelines concerning appropriate instructional 
strategies are presented: (1) a teacher should not engage in 
instruction that attenuates the ability to infer from the test score 
to the domain of knowledge/skill/ability of interest; (2) it is 
appropriate to teach the content domain to which the user wishes to 
infer; (3) it is appropriate to teach test-taking skills; (4) it is 
inappropriate to limit content instruction to a particular test item 
format; (5) it is inappropriate to teach only objectives from the 
domain that are sampled on the test; (6) it is inappropriate to use 
an instructional guide that reviews the questions of the latest issue 
of the test; (7) it is inappropriate to limit instruction to the 
actual test questions; (8) it is appropriate to teach toward test 
objectives if the test objective comprise the domain objectives; (9) 
it is appropriate to ensure that students understand the test 
vocabulary; and (10) one cannot teach only the specific task of a 
performance assessment.  Grey areas and tangential issues in test 
preparation are discussed.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: *Achievement Tests; Elementary Secondary Education; 
Guidelines; *Instructional Effectiveness; *Standardized Tests; 
*Teacher Role; *Test Coaching; Test Use
  Identifiers: *High Stakes Tests; Teaching to the Test

  EJ436853  TM516045
  Facts about Samples, Fantasies about Domains.
  Mehrens, William A.
  Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, v10 n2 p23-25 Sum 
  For related documents, see TM 514 511 and TM 515 606.
  ISSN: 0731-1745
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  POSITION PAPER (120);  
  Cohen and Hyman's response contains several misunderstandings of 
the original article by Mehrens and Kaminski.  One frequently wishes 
to make inferences to a domain from a test, but teaching a specific 
performance and testing for that performance does not allow for a 
domain inference.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Cheating; *Criterion Referenced Tests; Educational 
Assessment; Inferences; *Norm Referenced Tests; Sampling; Selection; 
*Test Coaching; Test Interpretation; Test Items; Test Results; Test 
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test

  ED341738  TM017934
  Effects of Standardized Testing on Teachers and Learning--Another 
  Herman, Joan L.; Golan, Shari
  Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143);  TEST, QUESTIONNAIRE (160)
  The effects of standardized testing on schools and on the teaching 
and learning processes within schools were studied using responses 
from upper elementary school teachers in matched pairs from 11 medium-
to-large school districts in 9 states.  In all, 341 teachers 
responded to a 136-item questionnaire prepared for the study that 
explored the amount and type of test preparation in the classroom and 
school, the impact of testing on non-tested subjects, the impact of 
testing on teacher pride and professionalism, and attitudes about 
reasons why test scores change.  Results indicate that testing does 
influence the teaching and learning within schools.  Substantial time 
and attention are devoted to assuring that students are taught tested 
objectives and given practice in test content.  Schools send messages 
to their teachers about the importance of test-curriculum alignment 
and teachers design instruction with such alignment in mind.  These 
effects are particularly evident in schools serving low socioeconomic 
status students.  Less apparent is whether test score improvements 
signal school improvement or teaching to the test.  Twenty-nine 
tables and one flowchart present study data.  A 25-item list of 
references and the Teacher Questionnaire are included.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Achievement Gains; Curriculum Development; Educational 
Change; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Teachers; Learning 
Processes; School Districts; *Scores; *Standardized Tests; *Teacher 
Attitudes; Test Coaching; Testing Problems; *Test Use; Test Wiseness
  Identifiers: Teaching to the Test; *Testing Effects

  EJ446489  SO523256
  Inclusion of Basic Skills Test Objectives in the Social Studies 
Curriculum: Some Instructional Strategies.
  Sidelnick, Daniel J.
  Journal of the Middle States Council for the Social Studies, v11 
p28-35 Fall   1989
  ISSN: 0739-8069
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141);  
  Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
  Discusses Pennsylvania's Tests of Essential Learning Skills (TELS) 
program.  Suggests avoiding "teaching the test" by implementing a 
program to improve reading and math skills across the curriculum.  
Offers strategies for promoting reading skills in social studies 
class.  Describes structured overview, anticipation guides, level 
guides, interactive notetaking, and guide-o-rama strategies.  (SG)
  Descriptors: *Content Area Reading; *Curriculum Development; 
Elementary Secondary Education; Interdisciplinary Approach; 
Mathematics Instruction; Reading Skills; Skill Development; *Social 
Studies; *Standardized Tests; *Teaching Methods
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test; *Tests of Essential Learning 

  EJ398422  SP518989
  Testmania: The School Under Siege.
  Richards, T. S.
  Learning, v17 n7 p64-66 Mar   1989
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  POSITION PAPER (120)
  This article gives a personal account of the effects of a district-
wide policy of "teaching to the test" on teachers, administrators, 
and the curriculum.  The effects include low teacher morale and 
incidents of cheating by administrators and teachers.  (IAH)
  Descriptors: Cheating; *Educational Objectives; Elementary 
Secondary Education; Personal Narratives; *Standardized Tests; State 
Standards; Teacher Attitudes; *Teaching Conditions; *Testing; Test 
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test

  EJ394511  TM514511
  Methods for Improving Standardized Test Scores: Fruitful, 
Fruitless, or Fraudulent?
  Mehrens, William A.; Kaminski, John
  Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, v8 n1 p14-22 Spr 
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  EVALUATIVE REPORT (142)
  The increased use of test scores as a measure of school quality is 
discussed.  Legitimate and illegitimate practices of test preparation 
are considered.  Some commercial test preparation programs are 
reviewed, with some conclusions about their effectiveness and 
desirability.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Achievement Tests; *Educational 
Quality; Elementary Secondary Education; *Scores; *Standardized Tests; 
*Test Coaching; Test Construction; Testing Problems; Testing Programs; 
Test Results
  Identifiers: California Achievement Tests; *Measurement Driven 
Instruction; *Teaching to the Test

  ED334204  TM016601
  Inflated Test Score Gains: Is It Old Norms or Teaching the Test? 
Effects of Testing Project. Final Deliverable--March 1989.
  Shepard, Lorrie A.
  Mar 1989
  29p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American 
Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, March 27-31, 
  It is increasingly recognized, following the lead of J. J. Cannell, 
that actual gains in educational achievement may be much more modest 
than dramatic gains reported by many state assessments and many test 
publishers.  An overview is presented of explanations of spurious 
test score gains.  Focus is on determining how test-curriculum 
alignment and teaching the test influence the meaning of scores.  
Findings of a survey of state testing directors are summarized, and 
the question of teaching the test is examined.  Some frequently 
presented explanations refer to norms used; others refer to aspects 
of teaching the test.  Directors of testing from 46 states (four 
states conduct no state testing) replied to a survey about testing.  
Forty states clearly had high-stakes testing.  The most pervasive 
source of high-stakes pressure identified by respondents was media 
coverage.  Responses indicate that test-curriculum alignment and 
teaching the test are distorting instruction.  A possible solution is 
to develop new tests every year, changing the tests rather than the 
norms.  Two tables present explanations for test score inflation and 
selected survey responses.  (SLD)
  Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Achievement Gains; Elementary 
Secondary Education; *Grade Inflation; Norm Referenced Tests; Scoring; 
*State Norms; State Officials; State Surveys; Testing Problems; *Test 
  Identifiers: High Stakes Tests; *Teaching to the Test; *Test 

  EJ377037  SP518002
  Focus on Research: Of Birchrods and Percentiles.
  Jacobs, Howard L.
  Contemporary Education, v59 n3 p162-164 Spr   1988
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  POSITION PAPER (120)
  The current climate for excellence in education has set off a wave 
of reactions, especially in the demand for accountability based on 
the assessment of students' academic performance.  The effects on one 
school district's summer school curriculum, and its implications for 
teachers, are discussed.  (JL)
  Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; *Accountability; Curriculum 
Development; Elementary Education; Government School Relationship; 
*Intentional Learning; *Measurement Techniques; Outcomes of Education; 
Teacher Role; *Test Wiseness
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test; Year of the Elementary School

  EJ366014  EA521992
  The Impact of Competency Testing on Curriculum and Instruction.
  Ellman, Neil
  NASSP Bulletin, v72 n505 p49-52 Feb   1988
   Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  POSITION PAPER (120);  
  Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners
  Everything that educators have learned aabout individual 
differences and learning styles as they relate to pacing is negated 
by tests that disregard such evidence.  Unless they are improved, 
competency tests are likely to seriously damage the educational 
process.  (CJH)
  Descriptors: Critical Thinking; *Curriculum Problems; *Educational 
Principles; Elementary Secondary Education; *Individual Needs; 
*Minimum Competency Testing; Student School Relationship; *Test 
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test

  EJ415832  SP519910
  The Distortion of Teaching and Testing: High-Stakes Testing and 
  Madaus, George F.
  Peabody Journal of Education, v65 n3 p29-46 Spr 1988 (Published 1
  Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080);  POSITION PAPER (120)
  A "high-stakes" test can directly and powerfully influence how 
teachers teach and students learn.  Six principles that describe the 
negative consequences of measurement-driven instruction are 
discussed, and the effect of these consequences on student and 
teacher behavior, as well as the test itself, is outlined.  (IAH)
  Descriptors: Accountability; Curriculum Development; Educational 
Environment; *Educational Testing; Elementary Secondary Education; 
Standardized Tests; *Student Evaluation; Teacher Evaluation; *Test 
Content; *Test Use
  Identifiers: *Measurement Driven Instruction; Teaching to the Test

  ED278984  CS008725
  The Impact of Assessment on Reading Instruction.
  Pearson, P. David; Dunning, David
  Illinois Reading Council Journal, v13 n2 p19-29 Fall 1985
  Document Type: TEACHING GUIDE (052);  JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
  Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
  Schemes for assessing reading achievement with specific tests have 
been in use since early in this century.  The two driving forces 
behind the testing movement--scientific objectivity and compulsory 
education--blossomed in the 1920s and 1930s and continued 
substantially unchanged through most of the 1960s.  In the early 
1970s, the idea of mastery learning (hold achievement constant and 
allow instruction to vary) was introduced and developed in the form 
of highly skill-specific, criterion-referenced tests.  Generally, 
instructional variation consisted of varying the amount of workbook 
or worksheet practice designed to help students pass mastery skills 
tests.  Since the late 1970s, states have shifted their concern to 
instruction and program assessment.  In the early 1980s, the Report 
of the Commission on Reading caused an increase in comprehensive 
state-mandated testing programs (SMTP).  The major threat of these 
programs is curriculum reductionism, which teachers might respond to 
by (1) not organizing classroom time around "teaching to the test"; 
(2) learning more about the process for revising SMTP; (3) 
interpreting SMTP results cautiously because they are generally not 
an accurate index of an individual's progress; and (4) evaluating 
children's reading competency using measures that approximate real 
reading.  (JD)
  Descriptors: Class Activities; Curriculum Problems; Elementary 
Secondary Education; Evaluation Methods; *Mastery Learning; Mastery 
Tests; Reading Achievement; Reading Diagnosis; *Reading Instruction; 
Reading Skills; *Reading Tests; Skill Development; *Standardized 
Tests; Student Evaluation; Teaching Methods; Test Construction; Test 
Format; *Testing Programs; Test Interpretation; Test Reliability; 
Test Use
  Identifiers: *Teaching to the Test

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