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ECS High School Policy Center (HSPC)

What the Research Says -- Assessment/High Stakes MS Word - The issue of high-stakes assessment is a complicated one, with many factors influencing methods and results. This Highlights document summarizes the research and results of seven studies completed on various aspects of assessment....

State High School Tests: Exit Exams and Other Assessments - This report on high school exit exams discusses new developments in state high school exit exam policies and how students enrolled in school in states with these policies are affected. Twenty-eight states required high school exit exams in the 2009-10 school year, and public schools in those states enroll 83 percent of the nation’s students of color and more than three-quarters of the country’s low-income pupils. For the first time, this year’s report also includes information about graduation requirements in states that do not require exit exams. State profiles are also available at the CEP site. (Center on Education Policy, December 2010)...

Graduation Exam Participation and Performance (2000-2001) of English Language Learners with Disabilities - This report is one of the first publicly released analyses of participation and performance of English language learners with a disability (SLEPD) on a high stakes assessment. Examining students’ performance on Minnesota’s exit exams in reading and math in 1999-2000, the researchers found that the 91% participation rate for SLEPD was lower than the participation rate for all students, but high at that time. The researchers also disaggregated scores by SLEPDs’ disability category, discovering that students differed on participation rates and performance depending upon their disability. Reviewing participation of students by language group, the authors revealed that Hmong SLEPDs participated at lower rates than the Hmong population as a whole, while the reverse was found for Somali- and Spanish-speaking students with disabilities. The study also reports students’ performance on these assessments and discusses implications and proposes areas for future research. (Kristi Liu, Manuel Barrera, Martha Thurlow, Kamil Guven and Vitaliy Shyyan, National Center on Educational Outcomes, June 2005)...

Alternative Routes to the Standard Diploma - Of the 27 states that have or will have exit exams by the end of the decade, 16 say they have or will develop an alternate route to the standard diploma, according to the authors. This report examines numerous aspects of these alternate routes, including which students are eligible for it, the nature of the alternate route and the comparability of the alternate route and the standard diploma route. Policies are separated into those for all students and those for students with disabilities. Recommendations for states are provided, as are individual profiles of alternative route policies in most of the 27 states. Among the recommendations: (1) States with alternative routes to their standard diplomas must provide clear, easy-to-find information about the alternate route; (2) The alternative route must be based on the same beliefs and premises as the standard route to the diploma; and (3) The same route or routes should be available to all students. In many states, the authors note, the alternative route for students with disabilities is not comparable to the standard diploma route. (Jane Krentz, Martha Thurlow, Vitaliy Shyyan and Dorene Scott, National Center on Educational Outcomes, March 2005)...

Pushed Out or Pulled Up? Exit Exams and Dropout Rates in Public High Schools - This study uses two accepted graduation rate calculations to evaluate what effect high school exit exams have on graduation rates. The authors found that, for both graduation rate calculations, adopting a high school exit exam has no effect on a state's graduation rate. The analyses also show that neither reducing class sizes nor increasing education spending leads to higher graduation rates. (Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters, Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute, May 2004)...

High-Stakes Research - The authors challenge the findings of the study published by Audrey Amrein and David Berliner that claimed to find no correlation between states' high-stakes test scores and their NAEP scores over the same period of time. Raymond and Hanushek argue that the researchers did not apply sound statistical practices, and reported results in a manner slanted to disparage states' use of high-stakes assessments. The authors also present the results of their own analysis of states' NAEP and high-stakes test scores, which report a positive relationship between states' results on NAEP and high-stakes assessments. Shopping for Evidence Against School Accountability is the full report on Raymond and Hanushek's reanalysis of the data used by Amrein and Berliner (Margaret E. Raymond and Eric A. Hanushek, Education Next, Summer 2003)...

High-Stakes Testing and the History of Graduation - This article from the Education Policy Analysis Archives provides historical perspective on high-stakes testing and suggests that tests required for high school graduation will have mixed results for the supposed value of high school diplomas. The history of high-stakes testing points to several general conclusions about the relationship between testing and graduation patterns such as: (1) graduation requirements are likely to have indirect as well as direct effects on the likelihood of graduating; (2) the proliferation of different exit documents may dilute efforts to improve the education of all students; and (3) graduation requirements will not diminish the general cultural confusion in the United States about the purpose of secondary education and a high school diploma, especially confusion about whether the educational, exchange or other value of a diploma is most important. (Sherman Dorn, Education Policy Analysis Archives, January 2003)...

Do High Stakes Tests Drive Up Student Dropout Rates? - This brief proposes that the current focus on high-stakes testing per se is too narrow. More relevant is the impact of standards-based reform writ large, which includes the adoption of statewide accountability systems intended to give it clout. How is this broad reform effort, especially the adoption of "rigorous," "world-class" academic standards, affecting the education experiences of borderline pupils -- those most at risk of academic failure? This brief identifies data collection problems and research limitations that must be addressed before that question can be answered. It also makes recommendations regarding the implementation of accountability systems to better ensure that they fairly serve all students. (Stanley N. Rabinowitz, Joy Zimmerman, Kerry Sherman, WestEd, 2001)...

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