Standards-based assessment under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) promised to make test information more meaningful and useful for parents, educators and the public at large. But arbitrary grading and shoddy reporting practices destroyed the credibility of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and created deep confusion about what standardized tests actually assess. In the end, reporting practices under NCLB made it harder than ever, even for insiders, to get a clear picture of what was actually going on.
In “Taking Stock: Achievement in Illinois Under NCLB,” researchers Paul Zavitkovsky, Denis Roarty and Jason Swanson clarify achievement trends that occurred under NCLB and explain why NCLB reporting practices made those trends so hard to see. The report concludes by describing important contributions that new PARCC exams can make and warns of new reporting problems that threaten to squander those contributions before they see the light of day.