While several states are implementing some form of standards-based reform, there is very little empirical evidence to prove that standards, assessment, and high-stakes accountability programs are effective in improving public schools. In many states, such as California, attempts to implement standards-based reform are inconsistently or carelessly aligned with quality research. The following are some of the shortcomings of standards-based reform. 1. Recent reports on the standards-based reform movement in New York suggest that in many schools the careless implementation of standards and assessment may have negative consequences for students. 2. Vague and unclear standards in several subject areas in several states complicate matters and do not serve as concrete standards defining what students should know and be able to do. 3. Top-down standards imposed by the federal or state government are also problematic. They impose content specifications without taking into account the different needs, opportunities to learn, and skills that may be appropriate for specific districts or regions. Table 1: Advantages of SBA compared with external examinations Point
Characteristics of SBA
Characteristics of Exams
Extends the range and diversity of assessment collection opportunities, task types and assessors Much narrower range of assessment opportunities: less diverse assessment; one exam per year Authenticity
Assessment done by students' own teacher; less possibility of cheating as teacher knows student capabilities; assessments more likely to be realistic Removes assessment entirely from teaching and learning; stressful conditions may lead to students not demonstrating real capacities Validity
Improves validity through assessing factors that cannot be included in public exam settings Limits validity by limiting scope of assessment, e.g. difficult to assess interaction skills in exam environment Reliability
Improves reliability by...
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