Publications & Resources

The Politics of Assessment: A Case Study of Policy and Political Spectacle

May 1997

Mary Lee Smith, Walter Heinecke, and Audrey J. Noble

The Arizona Student Assessment Program (ASAP) was the official state assessment policy from its inception in 1990 to its radical revision in 1995. A complex program, it included content standards, or state curriculum frameworks, a set of state tests, and various accountability mechanisms. The formal intent of the program was to increase accountability to the state’s curriculum frameworks and to move schools in the direction of greater emphasis on higher-order thinking, complex problem-solving on real-world problems, integrated subject matter, and application of basic skills. Technical problems associated with any new test are not unexpected, but politics had an unforeseen, detrimental impact on ASAP. Despite its innovations, ASAP was never implemented. This report discusses the various causes for its demise.

Smith, M. L., Heinecke, W., & Noble, A. J. (1997). The politics of assessment: A case study of policy and political spectacle (CSE Report 468). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).