None of the Above: A New Vision for State Standardized Testing

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Statewide standardized testing has played a central role in public education for three decades, providing insights into school performance and driving improvement. But state testing, mandated by federal law, has become increasingly divisive.

At the heart of the controversy is the fact that stakeholders want the tests to serve two different, equally legitimate, and largely incompatible roles. They want the tests to provide policymakers information on student achievement that’s comparable across schools and school districts to hold schools accountable for results. And they want them to give educators and families detailed information to improve instruction and track individual student progress. The tests are unable to play both roles effectively.

The conflict has led to high-quality, costly tests being criticized and abandoned, new initiatives struggling to meet both demands, and a stalled national discussion on teaching students to higher standards. It has played into the hands of opponents of state testing, threatening testing’s vital contributions to instructional improvement, school quality, research, and equity.

In None of the Above: A New Vision for State Standardized Testing, FutureEd Director Thomas Toch and Senior Fellow Lynn Olson present a blueprint for resolving the testing stalemate, one that proposes a new role for state tests as part of a testing model promoting high standards, greater transparency for policymakers and parents, and a strong focus on teaching and learning.


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