Ever since the Coleman Report was published 50 years ago, it has been well-known that student achievement is impacted mostly by many factors outside the classroom.
If you want to predict student performance, non-school factors will explain a majority of the variability in observed outcomes. (The ‘outcomes’ include how much a student knows, whether they will be admitted to a competitive college, how much additional education they will pursue, and how much they will earn in their future career.)
Which non-school factors have the most explanatory power? Researchers have found that these factors go a long way in explaining much of the performance differences between students: Continue reading
In the past few weeks, I have examined whether the PSSA deserves to be call a high-stakes test. My conclusions have been:
- The PSSA does not impact student grades, promotion, placement, or college admission. (see post)
- For our teachers, student test scores do not have a detectable influence on the outcome of the teacher evaluation system, nor on teacher pay, employment, or individual reputation. (see post)
- And for school districts, the PSSA impacts neither finances nor the level of state involvement in local school governance. (see post)
The PSSA does impact the reputation of a school community, through the School Performance Profile. But school districts have always had reputations, and parents have always sought out good school districts in which to raise their kids.
If the evidence demonstrates that the PSSAs are low stakes tests, why does the “high stakes” label continue to be used? (Examples here and here and here.) What is going on?