Publications & Resources

Raising the Stakes of Test Administration: The Impact on Student Performance on NAEP

Mar 1993

Vonda L. Kiplinger and Robert L. Linn

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test has been accused of underestimating student achievement because this “low-stakes” assessment has no consequences for students, their teachers, or their schools. In contrast, “high-stakes” tests–those assessments that have serious consequences for students, teachers, and schools–are assumed to motivate greater student performance because of the positive or negative consequences (such as college entrance) associated with student performance on the test. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether differences in test administration conditions and presumed levels of motivation created by the different testing environments affect student performance on the NAEP test. The testing conditions studied were the “low-stakes” environment of the current NAEP administration and a “higher-stakes” environment typified by many state assessment programs. The results of the study lead to the conclusion that estimates of achievement from NAEP would not be substantially higher if the stakes were increased to the level associated with a “higher-stakes” test.

Kiplinger, V. L., & Linn, R. L. (1993). Raising the stakes of test administration: The impact on student performance on NAEP (CSE Report 360). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).