Testing and Assessment

For the first time, ESEA requires states to test all students each year in grades 3-8 and at least once in grades 9-12 in math and reading. The tests must be in place by the 2005-06 school year. In addition, states must administer science tests at least once in grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12 by 2007-08. These state assessments will be the primary source of information used to determine whether schools, districts, and states make "adequate yearly progress" toward having all students performing at the "proficient" level or above by the 2013-2014 school year.

ED has issued federal regulations -- which go into effect Aug. 5, 2002. They are designed to be a roadmap for states and school districts as they comply with the law's expanded requirements. Despite the guidance, the regulations still give local officials freedom to design their own standards and tests -- leaving a patchwork that will vary across the country.

States must develop and begin administering tests in math and reading to all students in grades 3-8 and once to all students in grades 9-12, beginning with the 2005-06 school year.

States must also:

  • administer science assessments to all students once in grades 3-5, 6-9 and 9-12, beginning with the 2007-08 school year.
  • design or purchase tests that are aligned with state content and performance standards. If standards span more than one grade, teachers must be informed as to what portion of those multi-grade standards are to be taught at each grade.
  • design or purchase tests that are the same for all children (with appropriate accommodations as needed), but are valid and accessible for all students, including students with limited English proficiency and students with disabilities.
  • design or purchase tests that are consistent with nationally recognized professional and technical standards, use multiple measures that include higher-order thinking skills. Tests must also objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge and skills without evaluating or assessing family beliefs and attitudes.
  • must produce and provide individual reports of student performance to parents, teachers, and principals in a comprehensible and uniform format. States must also make assessment results to schools no later than the beginning of the following school year, beginning with 2002-03.
  • must publicize the test results in an annual report card by school, district and for the state itself. Test scores must be disaggregated by subgroup: gender; migrant status; racial and ethnic groups; students with disabilities; limited English proficiency and economically disadvantaged. Subgroup size must be large enough to produce valid results yet not so small as to reveal a student?s identity. New Jersey has chosen a group size of 10 for reporting purposes and of 20 for sanctions and accountability purposes. At least 95% of all eligible students must participate in the testing.
  • must all participate in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). If Congress appropriates sufficient funds, beginning in 2002-03 states must participate in NAEP reading and mathematics assessments at grades 4 and 8 every two years. Until now, state participation in NAEP has been voluntary. ED is expected to use NAEP to confirm state test results in reading and math.