What You Need to Know About California's High Stakes Tests

What are 'high stakes' tests?

These are tests mandated by law whose scores are
used as the basis for distributing rewards and punish-ments to students, teachers, schools, and school administrators.

What happens to students who fail tests?

The Truth About the SOLs

The Virginia Board of Education says that:

The SOL program will improve public education by holding everyone to high standards through high-stakes testing.

The Learning Record, an Assessment System Plus a Classroom Record Keeping Tool

The Learning Record is an open system of literacy and mathematics assessment, K-12, maintained and monitored by the classroom teacher to provide evidence that students are moving toward agreed upon goals and standards. Parents (and/or other adult mentors) and students themselves contribute evidence for the Record. Teachers summarize and record this information to inform their teaching and to calibrate their interpretations of the standards with others beyond the classroom for accountability purposes.

The Learning Record

The Learning Record is a powerful assessment process developed first in England for literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening) for use with low-income children, many of whom had first languages other than English. For years, U.S. work on the LR was led by the Center for Language in Learning, but sadly it has closed its doors.

Chicago School Reform: Lessons for the Nation

January 2007
Executive Summary


Download a print formated PDF of this executive summary.

Download a print formated PDF of the complete report.


Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems

National Forum on Assessment

Annotated Bibliography: Performance Assessment

American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Psychology in Education and Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory. (1993). Learner-Centered Principles for School Reform. Washington, DC: APA (Office of Psychology in Education, Education Directorate, APA, 750 First St., NE, Washington, DC 20002).

FairTest Annotated Bibliography on Testing and Evaluating Young Children


Selected Annotated Bibliography on Language Minority Assessment





Ascher, C. "Testing Bilingual Students: Do We Speak the Same Language?" PTA Today (March 1991, pp. 7-9).

Discusses cultural and linguistic bias issues in bilingual testing, options for administering tests to bilingual students, and problems associated with these options. Includes a short description of an alternative, "dynamic assessment."

Summary of Proposed Legislative Changes to ESEA/NCLB

March 2007

The current version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB), needs fundamental change. The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) has submitted legislative language based on the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB to the U.S. House and Senate Education Committees that would remake the law into an effective tool for school improvement.

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