States’ ELA and Math High School Assessments: Uses for Students, Schools and Teachers

Friday, September 4, 2015Printer-friendly version

As part of the Achieve 2014 50-state survey, Achieve asked states which ELA/literacy and math assessments they will administer to high school students in 2014–15, whether those same assessments will be used to evaluate schools and districts, whether and when these assessment data will be included as part of a teacher’s evaluation and whether/how student stakes are attached to these assessments. Download in PDF format hereA few considerations to keep in mind when reviewing the table:

  • As states phase in new assessments, some are introducing the assessments by cohort, e.g., the class of 2016 (the more common approach for comprehensive assessments), and others are introducing the assessments by school year, e.g., students who take an Algebra I course in 2014–15 take the Algebra I assessment, regardless of what year they will graduate (the more common approach for end-of-course assessments).
  • Regarding which students take the assessment, in states that administer end-of-course (EOC) assessments, the expectation is that a student will take the EOC assessment when the student completes the course. In other words, students take the appropriate EOCs for the ELA and mathematics courses in which the student is enrolled. In states where assessments are classified as “only students who elect to take the course,” the course itself is not a graduation requirement, but the state administers a statewide assessment for students who elect to enroll in the course.
  • Regarding student stakes, states have different polices for how much such tests matter for students or whether there are stakes attached. Most commonly, students are either required to achieve a passing score on an assessment or suite of assessments to graduate or the assessment results are factored into a student’s course grade. Almost all states that require students to achieve a passing score to graduate offer students alternate routes to meeting the requirement if they are unable to meet the passing score on the assessments.
  • Regarding teacher evaluation, this table reflects the first year that student assessment data will be incorporated into teacher evaluations, not necessarily the school year that a teacher will receive an evaluation. Some states will use 2014–15 data as a baseline year to measure student growth. Other states will use 2014–15 assessment results as the first of multiple years of data that will be rolled into a teacher’s evaluation. The nuances and variations across states make it nearly impossible to compare policies without oversimplifying the information.

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