Across the United States, the public’s demand for raising the educational achievement of all students has led to a significant increase in high-stakes assessments for students as well as the emergence of comprehensive school accountability systems that hold schools, teachers, and students responsible for learning. The consequences associated with high-stakes assessment results are also increasing. Most states now rely on the results of high-stakes assessments to determine a wide range of critical events, including whether or not to award recognition to a school, impose consequences upon a school, or promote/graduate students.
The state of Georgia requires the assessment of all students enrolled in its K–12 public schools. However, aside from their accountability features, assessments also provide volumes of information regarding the progress of students and schools. Educators can gain large amounts of data for analysis and use it in planning, and parents can benchmark the academic growth of their student. The mission of Georgia’s assessment program is to measure student achievement relative to the state mandated curriculum, to identify students failing to achieve mastery of content, to provide teachers with diagnostic information, and to assist school systems in identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to establish priorities in planning educational programs.
Test results have different meanings; much depends upon the type of test used, the purpose for the test, and information on how the results will be used. Generally, test results can help teachers and parents know how well a student has progressed from one point in time to another. Scores that show this progress can be reported in the form of a national percentile ranking, a grade-equivalency score, a stanine score, a scale score, or a performance level. These various scores have different meanings and can be best understood and interpreted with assistance from classroom teachers, counselors, and/or school test coordinators.
In order to maintain the integrity of the assessment program and its results, security must be established and maintained. The responsibility for the assessment program at the school level rests with the principal and their designated school test coordinator.