Formative versus Summative Assessments as Measures of Student Learning

Authored by: Robert J. Marzano

Handbook of Data-Based Decision Making in Education

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  April  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415965033
eBook ISBN: 9780203888803
Adobe ISBN: 9781135890841


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One can make a case that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) raised the emphasis on assessing and reporting student academic achievement to new levels. Guilfoyle (2006) chronicles the history of NCLB and its heavy reliance on testing. She notes: "The original law provided funding to school districts to help low-income students. Today, NCLB holds Title I schools that receive . . . federal money accountable by requiring them to meet proficiency targets on annual assessments" (p. 8). Guilfoyle (2006) describes the position of the U.S. Department of Education as follows:

The law requires tests in reading and math for students annually in grades 3–8 and once in high school. In 2005–2006, 23 states that had not yet fully implemented NCLB needed to administer 11.4 million new tests in reading and math. Science testing began in 2007—one test in each of three grade spans must be administered (3–5, 6–9, and 10–12)—the number of tests that states need to administer annually to comply with NCLB is expected to rise to 68 million. (p. 8)

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