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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Assessment Data and Public Schools: Balancing Emotion and Reason to Create Change
Dinah Sbelgio
REPORT 2000 SB22 Public Affairs Library

This report does not debate whether or not standardized tests should be used in elementary and secondary education; nor does it suggest to what degree testing should shape education policy. Instead, the assumption is made that testing is now and will continue to be an influential factor in the growing emphasis on accountability and assessment in our public education system. Unfortunately, education has traditionally been averse to using data and quantitative measures. Because many accountability systems do not take full advantage of the analytical potential that achievement data from standardized testing can present, educators have become even more resistant to using achievement data as a measure of the quality of public education. Thus, this report asks, "is there a way in which the data collected from standardized tests can be used that will build support for public education while, at the same time, elucidating those areas of the system that require change?" A model for presentation of such data used by the Just for the Kids nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas will be analyzed in the context of answering this question. Analysis is framed around the proposal of researcher Mike Schmoker that continuous school improvement relies upon a symbiotic relationship between data, goals, and teamwork.