Publications & Resources

Assessments and Accountability

Nov 1998

Robert L. Linn

Uses of tests and assessments as key elements in five waves of educational reform during the past 50 years are reviewed. These waves include the role of tests in tracking and selection emphasized in the 1950s, the use of tests for program accountability in the 1960s, minimum competency testing programs of the 1970s, school and district accountability of the 1980s, and the standards-based accountability systems of the 1990s. Questions regarding the impact, validity, and generalizability of reported gains and the credibility of results in high-stakes accountability uses are discussed. Emphasis is given to three issues of currently popular accountability systems. These are (a) the role of content standards, (b) the dual goals of high performance standards and common standards for all students, and (c) the validity of accountability models. Some suggestions for dealing with the most severe limitations of accountability are provided.

Linn, R. L. (1998). Assessments and accountability (CSE Report 490). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).