Best Practices, Risks, and Challenges in Statewide Assessments

Thursday, June 20, 2013: 3:00 PM-3:55 PM
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
  • Content Strands:
    1. Implementing state and federal programs and policy
    As states transition to technology-based common core assessments, leading practices are in great demand. This session will present findings of a GAO report and survey results on states’ incorporation of leading practices in test security, including for technology-based assessments. The survey was based largely on volume I of the Operational Best Practices for Statewide Large-Scale Assessment Programs, authored by state officials, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Association of Test Publishers.

    Statewide assessments are used to measure student achievement and serve as the basis for school accountability systems. In 2009, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the U.S. Department of Education had not incorporated best practices in assessment security into its peer review protocols, and that certain states rely on inadequate security procedures that may negatively impact the reliability of their assessment systems.[1]Since that report was released, numerous reports have surfaced about incidences of cheating in school districts across the country. Unfortunately, cheating has the potential to shortchange schools and students in need of support, and to undermine policies aimed at improving performance. Thus, GAO prepared this report under the Comptroller General’s authority to conduct work on GAO's initiative because reliable state assessments serve as the basis for school accountability and allocation of resources.

    This symposium session will present the findings included in GAO’s report. The report will be issued in spring 2013, unless otherwise restricted by Congress.[2]  Specifically, GAO will discuss the results of its nationwide survey of state testing directors on: (1) the extent to which states have incorporated leading practices in test security into their testing policies and procedures, (2) oversight tools states use to ensure districts are following test security policies and procedures, and how often state officials identified cheating as a result of this oversight, and (3) sources of information or assistance states rely on for test security issues, and additional assistance that would be useful to states. These topics are of paramount importance to states and school districts because it provides new information about how best practices are implemented across states, particularly for technology-based assessments.

    [1] GAO, No Child Left Behind Act: Enhancements in the Department of Education’s Review Process Could Improve State Academic Assessments, GAO-09-911 (Washington, D.C.: September 2009).

    [2] Although unlikely, please note that GAO will not be able to present its findings in the event that any report restrictions are in place at the time of the conference,