Publications & Resources

Reforming Schools by Reforming Assessment: Consequences of the Arizona Student Assessment Program (ASAP): Equity and Teacher Capacity Building

Mar 1997

Mary Lee Smith with Audrey J. Noble, Walter Heinecke, Margo Seck, Carol Parish, Marilyn Cabay, Sue C. Junker, Susan Haag, Kim Tayler, Yvonne Safran, Yolanda Penley and Amy Bradshaw

In this study, Mary Lee Smith and other researchers focused on how schools changed as a result of state-mandated standards and assessments. Drawing data from both qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers concluded that achievement of the policy goals of the Arizona Student Assessment Program (ASAP) was limited to those schools that had adequate resources to provide professional and curriculum development, and where school philosophies and practices were already consistent with the ASAP program. Inadequate state attention to capacity-building, to the technical qualities of the performance tests, and to issues of equity created barriers to implementation of the ASAP goals. For example, less than one fifth of the teachers surveyed believed that adequate professional development had been provided relative to ASAP. Most teachers distrusted the validity of the tests and believed that the performance assessments were no more fair than standardized tests to poor children, children of color, and language minority children. The evidence of this study, concluded Smith, shows that the “opportunities of these children to learn, for example, higher order thinking skills, are considerably less than those of other children.”

Smith, M. L., Noble, A. J., Heinecke, W., Seck, M., Parish, C., Cabay, M., … Bradshaw, A. (1997). Reforming schools by reforming assessment: Consequences of the Arizona Student Assessment Program (ASAP): Equity and teacher capacity building (CSE Report 425). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).