Leadership Statement of Nine Principles on Equity and Educational Testing and Assessment

The following statement was developed by a group of educational leaders seeking to ensure that concerns for equity would be reflected in all efforts at assessment reform. Since the statement was articulated, it has been signed by educational policymakers, measurement scientists, educational researchers, school administrators, and experts on equity and diversity who represent a variety of perspectives and expertise. Although these leaders have not always agreed on the particulars of assessment reform, they have unanimously supported the need to address equity and excellence in tandem as assessment reform moves forward.

As policymakers move forward to develop new standards and assessments, they should consider including the following principles, which will help to ensure that both equity and quality are dominant themes:

  1. New assessments should be field tested with the nation's diverse population in order to demonstrate that they are fair and valid and that they are suitable for policymakers to use as levers to improve outcomes before they are promoted for widespread use by American society.

  2. New standards and tests should accurately reflect and represent the skills and knowledge that are needed for the purposes for which they will be used.

  3. New content standards and assessments in different fields should involve a development process in which America's cultural and racial minorities are participants.

  4. New policies for standards and assessments should reflect the understanding that standards and assessments represent only two of many interventions required to achieve excellence and equity in American education. Equity and excellence can only be achieved if all educators dedicate themselves to their tasks and are given the resources they need.

  5. New standards and assessments should offer a variety of options in the way students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, providing a best possible opportunity for each student to perform.

  6. New standards and assessments should include guidelines for intended and appropriate use of the results and a review mechanism to ensure that the guidelines are respected.

  7. New policies should list the existing standards and assessments that the new standards and assessments should replace (e.g., Chapter 1 standards and tests, state-mandated student standards and tests) in order to avoid unnecessary and costly duplication and to avoid overburdening schools, teachers and students who already feel saturated by externally mandated tests.

  8. New policies need to reflect the understanding by policymakers of the tradeoff between the types of standards and assessments needed for monitoring the progress of school systems and the nation versus the types of standards and assessments needed by teachers to improve teaching and learning. The attention and resources devoted to the former may compete for the limited resources available for research and development for the latter.

  9. New policies to establish standards and assessments should feature teachers prominently in the development process.

(National Research Council, 1993)


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